FEDERAL WAY, WA -- The Texas A&M men’s swim team opened the 2008 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships in a big way with a victory in the consolation final of the 200-yard freestyle relay on Thursday at the King County Aquatic Center.
The Aggie foursome of sophomore Casey Strange (Houston, Texas), senior Luke Chambless (Cleburne, Texas), junior Brad Raiford (Kingwood, Texas) and senior Ozzie Gardner (Kearns, Utah) won the consol final with a time of 1:18.64.
Trailing SMU, Michigan and LSU going into the anchor leg, Gardner split 19.03 to get the Aggies to the wall first, .11 of second ahead of Northwestern. Gardner’s split was the fastest by any swimmer in the consol final. All four Aggies split under 20 seconds in the victory that scored 18 points for the team.
Gardner added another 11 points to the Aggies’ team total with an eighth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 19.75. It was the fifth race of the day for Gardner, who set the school record in the prelims with a time of 19.49. Gardner’s prelim time broke the 10-year old A&M record of 19.64 set by Jerrod Kappler at the 1998 Big 12 Championships in College Station.
The Aggies closed out their first day scoring with a third-place finish (11th overall) in the consolation final of the 400-yard medley relay. The foursome of sophomore Nikita Denisyako, sophomore Israel Duran, senior Alejandro Jacobo and Gardner, all school record holders in their specialties, swam to a time of 3:11.34, the second-fastest in school history, to add another 12 points to A&M’s total. Earlier in the day, the Aggie four set the school record with a time of 3:10.18.