March 24, 2012
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. --- Georgia's Martin Grodzki put on a record-setting performance on Saturday in the 1,650-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
The Bulldogs finished 11th in the team competition with 106.5 points. The team title went to California.
The runner-up in the 1,650 freestyle his first two seasons, Grodzki broke through in a big way on Saturday. He stopped the clock in 14:24.08, holding off Stanford's Chad LaTourette in 14:24.35. Grodzki broke the U.S. Open and NCAA records of 14:26.62 set by Michigan's Chris Thompson in 2001. Grodzki also eclipsed the school record of 14:26.86 set in 2008 by Sebastien Rouault. LaTourette's time gave him the American record.
"I had fun racing with Chad; I had no idea we were going that fast," said Grodzki, a native of Germany who prepped at The Baylor School in Chattanooga. "The race always depends on what the other guy does. I took it out fast, he charged and I held on, and then he tried to go again. I was lucky to hold him off. ... Setting a new NCAA record was a goal of mine this season, so I'm happy about that. If Chad had not been there, I would not have been able to do it."
"Martin is just a great racer," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "He got a little leggy in there, but he found a way to gather himself, which is no small feat. That was a great, great race. Chad is as tough as it gets. That was one of the best races I've ever seen."
Grodzki also won the 500 freestyle on Thursday, joining Rouault and diver Chris Colwill as Georgia's only male competitors with two NCAA titles in the same meet. Colwill claimed the 1-and 3-meter springboards in 2006, while Rouault won the 500 and the 1,650 freestyle in 2008 (also in Federal Way). Colwill and Rouault (three each) and Grodzki (two) are the only career multiple winners in school history.
Grodzki earned three First-Team All-America honors at the NCAAs - in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle and on the 800 freestyle relay.
Also in the 1,650 freestyle on Saturday, Andrew Gemmell placed fifth with a time of 14:41.86, lowering his own fifth-best time in school history. Will Freeman came in 14th in 14:52.84.
In the 200 breaststroke, Nic Fink stopped the clock in 1:54.91 to come in 10th. Fink lowered his own third-best time in school annals.
Michael Arnold placed 18th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 43.26, eclipsing his own school mark of 43.33. Jared Markham came in 27th in the 200 backstroke, touching in 1:44.82. Peter Benner finished 33rd in the 200 butterfly, stopping the clock in 1:48.39. The 400 freestyle relay team of Doug Reynolds, Arnold, Fink and Markham placed 18th with a time of 2:56.22.
"It was a great meet for our guys," Bauerle said. "We came on like gangbusters today, and I was proud of the way they stood up. We fell just shy of our goal of another top-10 finish, but we feel like the future is bright. We had six underclassmen here this week, and this is an experience that they can build on."