COLLEGE STATION, Texas --- The Texas A&M men swimming and diving team had to overcome multiple double-digit deficits to garner its first Southeastern Conference victory with a hard-fought 158-140 win over LSU on Saturday at the Student Recreation Natatorium.
“There’s a great history between Texas A&M and LSU – even when I swam here decades ago, it was great rivalry,” said Aggie head coach Jay Holmes, who lettered for A&M in the early-1980s. “Now that we’re in the same conference it adds even more to it. I know both teams really want to win this meet, and I’m incredibly proud of the way we battled today.”
The Aggies trailed 133-129 heading into the penultimate race of the day, the 400 IM, but A&M responded with a 1-2-3 finish from junior Simon Frank (3:59.33), junior Omar Enriquez (3:59.54) and sophomore Hayden Duplechain (4:00.74) to grab a 145-136 lead.
“There were huge point swings, and it seems like we were behind the entire day, which we probably were,” Holmes said. “We were doing just enough to stay in it. For us to get 1-2-3 in the 400 IM was a great thing for the team, and a testament to our guys for them to be able to do that. I was hoping that we could win it, but I surely didn’t think we would 1-2-3 them.”
With the outcome still in doubt for the final race of the day, the Aggies took control early in the 200 free relay and beat LSU by over a second to assure the team victory. The foursome of junior Kyle Troskot, senior John Dalton, junior Henrik Lindau and true freshman Cory Bolleter won the 200 free relay with a time of 1:19.98.
“That’s the fastest unshaved 200 free relay in a very long time, maybe the fastest ever,” Holmes said. “It was a great swim for this time of the year for them.”
Also playing a huge role in the Aggies’ win was a pair of victories by true freshman Alexandros Theocharidis in the 100 and 200 back. Theocharidis won the 100 back in 49.64 early in the meet, and then took the 200 back down the stretch in a time of 1:48.71.
“Alexandros’ two wins in the backstroke were huge for us,” Holmes said. “I thought we would win one of the two backs, but I didn’t think there was any way we would win both. He stepped up for us in a big way and we really needed him to do that.”
Holmes also pointed to the 200 free, the third race of the day, as a turning point in the dual meet. LSU had won the 200 medley relay and the 1,000 free to open an early 25-11 lead. But senior John Dalton gave A&M its first win of the day with a time of 1:39.23, and he was trailed by teammates John Wagner, Paul-Marc Schweitzer and Mateo Muzek as A&M grabbed the top four spots in the race.
“It was a big momentum swing and it calmed us down,” Holmes said. “LSU is a good enough team to get away from you. I challenged our guys before that race to get to the wall first and they were able to get it done.”
Dalton also contributed a win in the 100 free in 44.34, and was touched out by .01 in the 50 free (20.39). Other Aggies posting individual wins were sophomore Ford McLiney in the one-meter dive (359.55), Enriquez in 500 free (4:29.07) and Lindau in the 100 butterfly (48.36).