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IU men's swim and dive finishes third for second straight year at NCAA championships



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The IU men's and women's swimming and diving teams cheer on freshman Michael Brinegar during his final lap Nov. 17 at Counsilman Billingsley Aquatic Center. Brinegar placed first in the 1650 freestyle, breaking a school record.  Claire Livingston Buy Photos

IU men's swimming and diving finished third with 385.5 points at the 2019 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving championships.

The University of Texas took second with 475 points, and the University of California, Berkeley won it all with 560.

Backed by four titles and 38 All-America honors, IU showcased record-breaking performances and now has consecutive third place finishes at the NCAA championships for the first time in 44 years.

“I’ve got to tip my hat to Cal Berkeley,” IU Head Swim Coach Ray Looze said. “But I was really proud of our guys. Back-to-back third place finishes is definitely moving in the right direction.”

Seniors Ian Finnerty and Vini Lanza, sophomore Andrew Capobianco and the 400 medley relay team of Finnerty, Lanza, senior Zach Apple and sophomore Gabriel Fantoni earned NCAA titles during the championships in Austin, Texas.

Finnerty, a five-time NCAA champion, repeated as the 100-yard breaststroke champion with the second fastest time of his career and in history. He touched the wall at 49.85 seconds and still remains the only man to swim the event in under 50 seconds.

The 14 time All-American and Big Ten champion also placed third in the 200-yard breaststroke on the final night with a time of 1:49.90, the fastest of his career and in IU history.

“Ian definitely felt the pressure trying to repeat but he handled it and still got the job done,” Looze said.

Finnerty and Lanza went head to head in the 200 individual medley Thursday night. Lanza earned fourth with a time of 1:40.30 while Finnerty placed seventh with a time of 1:42.84, both personal bests.

Arguably the biggest highlight of Lanza’s collegiate career was claiming his first career individual title in the 100 butterfly. He set the Big Ten and school record on Friday night with a time of 44.37. In doing so, he became the first Hoosier since Mark Spitz in 1972 to win the event.

On Saturday, Lanza earned his 21st All-America honor when he finished runner-up in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:39.63. This was just behind North Carolina State University senior Andreas Vazaios who defended his title with a winning time of 1:38.57.

“Everybody wanted Vini to win, he’s the heart and soul of this year’s team,” Looze said. “He’s very emotional and competitive, and he’s well liked by everybody of every group.”

Capobianco won his first national title Friday with a score of 461.65 on the 3-meter dive. He entered the event as the No. 2 seed but managed to put the competition away with a dive scoring 100.70 on the competition’s most difficult dive.

“It was really exciting trying to show what I’ve been working on in practice, and I’m glad it worked out in the meet,” Capobianco said. “The second dive is one of my favorite dives, and I like to put it second because if I hit that one I know the rest of my list is going to go well and give me an edge over the rest of the competition.”

Redshirt senior James Connor closed out his career as a Hoosier with a fifth place finish on the 1-meter dive Thursday.

“Even when he didn’t have his best meet he was there supporting me the entire time,” Capobianco said. “James has been the best teammate that I’ve ever had and has been so helpful to me in every aspect of my life.”

IU successfully defended its 400 medley relay title with a time of 2:59.70. This set a new Big Ten and school record.

IU also took fourth on the 200-yard freestyle relay as the team of Apple, junior Mohamed Samy, sophomore Bruno Blaskovic and freshman Brandon Hamblin touched the wall at 1:15.41. This was yet another Big Ten and school record.

Throughout the meet, IU saw other individual successes from Apple, freshmen Zane Backes, Michael Brinegar and Mikey Calvillo.

Apple was the runner-up for the 200-yard freestyle with a career best finish of 1:31.55. His finish marked the 18th All-Americahonor of his collegiate career and is the best by a Hoosier in 42 years.

The Ohio native also earned third in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 41.45 seconds. Lastly, Apple took fifth on the 50-yard freestyle, earning the best finishing time for IU in the event since 1975.

In the 1,650-yard freestyle Saturday, Brinegar set a school record with a second place finish time of 14:27.50. This time was also the best in the event by a Hoosier since 1973.

Calvillo also set a personal record in the B final of the 1,650-yard free with a time of 14:40.59, good for 10th place overall. He and Brinegar are the first Hoosier duo to finish in the top 16 since 1979.

Backes, IU’s best prospect for the breaststroke events next season, placed fifth in the 100 breast with a time of 51.35. This marked his first All-America honor.

With the season now over, Looze said the program is going to relax and begin preparing for the 2019-20 year.

“We just ate Texas barbecue and the guys are saying they’re going to eat salad for a week straight,” Looze said. “We have some more recruiting to do because we’re going to be rebuilding next year, no question. This is irreplaceable talent, and it’s going to take us a little while to get back to where we were.”

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