Spring break sports will keep campus residents busy #5

Liam Stone during the 2017 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center on Feb.16, 2017.

Wednesday, 270 men (235 swimmers and 35 divers) will participate in the NCAA Championships, a four-day competition extending until Saturday at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Of those 270 men, eight of them will represent Tennessee: Two divers and six swimmers.

“Everything we’re doing here now is preparation,” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “This is training. We’ve been talking about getting ready for the NCAA Championships.”

One of the strongest contenders on Tennessee’s side is diver Colin Zheng. The redshirt junior was absolutely dominant in the NCAA Zone B Qualifiers held in Knoxville two weeks ago. He placed first out of 18 competitors in both the 1- and 3-meter springboard dives and had a record-setting performance in the platform dive, becoming the first Vol ever to eclipse 500 points in that event, scoring 507.15 to lock down first place.

Joining Zheng in the NCAA Championships will be diver Liam Stone, who also had a fairly strong showing in the Zone B Qualifiers. Stone, unlike Zeng, only participated in the two springboard events, both of which he qualified for.

Both Stone and Zheng have a bevy of experience at the NCAA Championships, having won titles in the 1-meter springboard and the platform events, respectively, at the 2016 Championships.

“We’ve got a couple weeks' training here now,” Stone said. “So we’ll be training together and pushing each other, doing mock competitions. Still physically and mentally preparing.”

Six swimmers were selected, without any form of qualifying competition, to swim for Tennessee at the NCAA Championships, including all five relay teams.

The strongest of the five relay teams — and the most likely to win a title — is comprised of Braga Verhage, Peter John Stevens, Ryan Coetzee and Kyle DeCoursey.

Notably, the four men enter the Championships with the second-fastest 200-yard medley time in the entire nation this year, carding an impressive time of 1:23:02 in that very event at the SEC Championships in February.

Individually, Tennessee is bringing two swimmers who are among the top 16 in their respective events. Coetzee is ranked 13th nationally in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 45.46, and DeCoursey comes in 13th as well, specifically in the 50-meter freestyle event, in which he holds an admirable 19.12 time.

DeCoursey is also ranked in the top 16 nationally in the 100-meter freestyle with a 42.30 time. Unsurprisingly, Coetzee will participate in the 100-meter butterfly at the Championships, and DeCoursey will swim in the 50- and 100-meter freestyles.

Stevens will participate individually in the 100-meter breaststroke, an event in which his most notable time is 52.29, a time recorded in his freshman year at Tennessee.

Competing in the 200-meter individual medley and the 200-meter butterfly will be senior Sam McHugh, a four-time All-American while at Tennessee.

Junior Michael Reilman will swim in the 200-meter freestyle, and senior Matthew Dunphy will round out Tennessee’s competitors, participating in the 100-meter breaststroke.

The finals on Friday and Saturday will be live-streamed on ESPN3, and any events before then can be found on the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship micro-sites.

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