AUSTIN --- Two Texas A&M backstrokers made strong cases for inclusion in the 2008 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships by posting lifetime-best times at the Division I Qualification Meet at the Jamail Swimming Center on the University of Texas campus. The meet featured swimmers from A&M, Texas, Air Force, BYU and North Carolina State.
“We went there hoping to get one backstroker into the NCAA meet, and now I think we might get two so it was a very productive weekend for the Aggie swimmers,” fourth-year A&M head coach Jay Holmes said.
Sophomore Nikita Denisyako (Moscow, Russia) crushed the A&M school record by nearly a second in the 200-yard backstroke and just missed the NCAA automatic cut with a time of 1:43.74. Denisyako’s time lowered his own school record of 1:44.52 that he set at the Big 12 Championships on March 1 and was only .14 of a second off the “A” cut.
“Nikita had a great, great swim,” Holmes said. “He seems to get better every time he hits the water. He covered his final 50 yards in 25.8, which is really fast. His first 100 was at 51 seconds and we thought he was out of it, but he closed incredibly well.”
Fellow sophomore Jason Bergstrom (Friendswood, Texas) took more than a second off his previous lifetime best in the 100 backstroke with a time of 47.61, which moved him to No. 3 on A&M’s top 10 list in the race. Bergstrom’s time is a fast “B” cut and was just .17 off the automatic cut.
“That was just a super race for Jason,” Holmes said. “I think he’s got a very good shot of getting into the (NCAA) meet. He’s our third-fastest 100 backstroker in school history and he’s behind a couple of Canadian Olympians in Riley Janes and Matt Rose.”
Also swimming fast in Austin was redshirt sophomore Tyler Welch (Austin, Texas), who punched his ticket to the U.S. Olympic Trials with a qualifying time of 55.34 in the long course 100-meter butterfly during the All-American Long Course Championships.
“This is a big deal for Tyler,” Holmes said. “He’s a guy that we watched grow up in our summer camp. We gave him a roster spot when he was a freshman, and he just kept working hard and getting better. I call this a ‘justice swim’ because you know there’s justice in the world when something like this happens.”