Three members of the Ivy League champion Princeton men's swimming and diving team posted Top-50 finishes in the first day of the NCAA Championships. In fact, they came within .01 of a second of finishing in the exact same spot.
Senior Jon Christensen, sophomore Paul Nolle and freshman Harrison Wagner made their individual debuts Thursday at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Seattle, and it appeared that 41 was the magic number. All five Princeton qualifers were able to swim Friday, as both junior Kaspar Raigla and freshman Michael Strand competed in the 200 free relay.
Nolle opened Princeton's showing with a 41st-place finish in the 500 free with a time of 4:26.77, and Christensen followed with a 41st-place finish in the 200 IM in 1:47.66. Wagner nearly hit the trifecta, but his time of 20.05 in the 50 free ended up 44th in the preliminaries. Three swimmers tied for 41st with a time of 20.04.
The 200 free relay placed 22nd overall in a time of 1:20.85. The 400 medley relay nearly missed All-America honors, but it placed 17th in 3:13.64; the Top 16 earn All-America.
Since only the top 16 finishers qualify for the championship finals, Princeton will have to wait until Friday to compete for All-America honors. However, Friday could be a very special one for Princeton, which sends out both individuals and a relay.
Christensen will look for All-America honors in the 100 breast, where his seed time of 52.86 is currently eighth-fastest in the nation (his 200 breast seed time of 1:55.96 is 17th fastest in the nation). The quartet of Christensen, Raigla, Strand and Wagner will also swim in the 200 medley relay, which opens the competition Friday. Their seed time is 1:25.89, currently 11th best in the nation and only .02 of a second out of the Top 10.
Strand and Raigla are also both vying for All-America honors in the 100 back. Strand is 20th in the back (47.04), while Raigla is 31st (47.88).