March 23, 2012
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. --- Martin Grodzki claimed the national title in the 500-yard freestyle to highlight Georgia's showing on Thursday at the NCAA Championships at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
Grodzki won the 500 freestyle as he stopped the clock in 4:12.95, lowering his own third-best time in school history. During the trials earlier Thursday, Grodzki posted a time of 4:13.80, which established his then-personal best.
Thursday's win was redemption for a year ago, when Grodzki was unable to make the finals as one of the top 16 swimmers in the 500 freestyle.
"Last year, I went into the 500 seeded third and I didn't swim fast enough in the morning to make it back," said Grodzki, the 2012 SEC champion in the event. "Today, I knew I had to work hard in the morning. I had a good time, which gave me confidence for tonight, and it all worked out. I've been second the last two years in the mile, so it's nice to finally get a first, especially in the 500. I don't think people took me seriously as a 500 swimmer; they thought I was just a pure miler. So winning was really nice, especially since it's my favorite race."
"Last year, he wasn't even in the top 16, so it's a pretty neat thing to happen," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "My hat's off to him. That kid knows how to race. He sensed what was going to happen at the end, so he decided to do something before it got to that point. He put a little space in there, and boy, it was just enough. They were coming at him like gangbusters."
Grodzki held off Southern Cal's Cristian Quintero, who touched in 4:13.07, and Stanford's Chad LaTourette, who went 4:13.92.
A junior from Berlin, Germany, who prepped at The Baylor School in Chattanooga, Grodzki is the second Bulldog in history to win the 500 freestyle, joining Sebastien Rouault from 2008. Grodzki is also the 12th man in Georgia annals to claim at least one national title.
On the strength of Grodzki's 20 points, after the first day of the three-day competition, the Bulldogs stand 14th with 25.5 points. Cal has the team lead with 157.5 points. Georgia has finished in the top 10 four straight years and seven times in the past eight seasons.
Michael Arnold tied for 15th in the 50 freestyle with a time of 19.65. In the prelims, Arnold recorded a time of 19.51.
The 400 medley relay team of Jared Markham, Nic Fink, Doug Reynolds and Arnold placed 15th in 3:12.13. In prelims, the quartet had a time of 3:11.93.
Fink placed 17th in the 200 individual medley, stopping the clock in 1:45.27. Peter Benner came in 40th in 1:47.63.
Andrew Gemmell placed 18th in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:17.75, while Will Freeman took 25th in 4:20.08.
The 200 freestyle relay of Arnold, Reynolds, Markham and Benner finished 21st with a time of 1:20.61.
The NCAAs will continue on Friday with the 200 medley relay, the 400 individual medley, the 100 butterfly, the 200 freestyle, the 100 breaststroke, the 100 backstroke, the 800 freestyle relay and 3-meter diving.