March 25, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. --- Following the prelims on Friday at the NCAA Championships, Georgia coach Jack Bauerle was asked if Bill Cregar had a chance to win the 400 individual medley.
Despite Cregar's prelims finish of sixth and placement in Lane 7 for the finals, Bauerle's response was, "All he needs is a lane."
Bauerle's words proved prophetic as Cregar stormed back in the final 100 yards to win the individual national title in the 400 individual medley with a time of 3:40.97. Second place went to Michigan's Kyle Whitaker in 3:41.69.
"That event is stacked with so many good swimmers, so I just had to stick to my race," Cregar said. "I'm not always the first one out, but I did what I do every day in training. It's hard to kick that last 100, but I put my head down and kicked as hard as I could ... When I got to the free wall, I put my head down and did not look. I just tried to get to the wall first."
Led by Cregar, the Bulldogs moved up to 12th in the team standings with 79 points. California has the team lead with 352 points, while Texas is second with 288.5 and Stanford is third with 278.5.
Cregar's time was the second-fastest in school history, trailing only Robert Margalis' 3:39.92. Cregar won the 400 individual medley at the 2010 SEC Championships and added the 200 individual medley at this year's SECs.
Cregar becomes the 10th man in school history to win an individual title, joining Reid Patterson, Matt Buck, Kris Babylon, Margalis, Chris Colwill, Sebastien Rouault, Neil Versfeld, Gil Stovall and Troyden Prinsloo.
"That was pretty exciting stuff," Bauerle said. "I could not be happier for him. Two years ago at this meet, he did not score, so to come back and be an NCAA champion is quite an accomplishment. I am really proud of Billy."
Also in the 400 individual medley, Peter Benner touched in 3:50.12 to take 16th. Mark Dylla came in 12th in the 100 butterfly, stopping the clock in 46.44. Matt Bartlett won the consolation final to place ninth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 46.90. The 800 freestyle relay of Bartlett, Dylla, Cregar and Jameson Hill took 10th in 6:23.79.
The NCAAs will conclude on Saturday with the 1,650 freestyle, the 200 backstroke, the 100 freestyle, the 200 breaststroke, the 200 butterfly, platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay.