March 26, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Texas. - Senior captain Alex Righi opened the first day of competition at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships by tying the American record in the 50-yard freestyle event. Righi, who took second in the event at the Championships last year, swam a time of 18.82 in the preliminary round, tying Cal sophomore Nathan Adrian for the American record. Righi is currently the top seeded swimmer going into the final round, which will be contested tonight.
Competition in the final round will get underway at 7:00 p.m. In the finals, Righi will face Adrian, who is currently seeded fourth in the event with a time of 18.90. Adrian, who did not compete at the Championships last year, edged Righi out for a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in a swim off and went on to earn an Olympic gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay. Righi will have a chance at the NCAA record of 18.47 set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo last year at the Championships in the evening session. Cielo won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 50-meter freestyle. The second seed in the finals tonight will be Auburn's Matt Targett, a bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympics for Australia. He was only .03 seconds behind Righi in the preliminary round, swimming 18.85.
Righi will also compete in the 100-yard backstroke on Friday and the 100-yard freestyle on Saturday.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity