Kalnins, Le Set for NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship
March 26, 2014
NCAA Championships Central | Live Results | Le Video Interview | Kalnins Video Interview | Collins Video Interview | ESPN3 (Day 2 Finals) | ESPN3 (Day 3 Finals) | Day 1 Prelims Live Video | Day 1 Finals Live Video | Day 2 Prelims Live Video | Day 3 Prelims Live Video
Missouri State Bears at 2014 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships
Bears Get Two into Field for First Time
Missouri State NCAA Division I Championships History
Le, a native of Moore, Okla., is the Bears’ first two-time NCAA qualifier and returns to the championships looking to earn All-American status for the second time after placing 15th overall in the 200-yard backstroke a year ago.
Le also finished 33rd in the 100 back (47.57) and 45th in the 200-individual medley last at last season’s meet in Indianapolis.
Kalnins, of Valmiera, Latvia, makes his first appearance at the NCAA meet and is believed to be the first Latvian ever to make the field. He’s no stranger to big meets, though, having swam in the 2012 Olympics in London and 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona the last two summers.
Prior to Le’s NCAA appearance last year, the Bears’ most recent NCAA qualifier was Matt Beasley in 2005. Beasley was 36th in both the 200 free and 200 IM and was the first MSU swimmer to qualify for NCAA championships in two events.
The rest of the list includes Josh Wegrzyn (2002), Eric Christiansen (1990), Mike Ablard (1985) and Don Fearon (1984).
Wegrzyn was 20th overall in the 100 back and 43rd in the 100 free in 2002. His time in the 100 back just missed giving the Bears points in the national meet for what would have been the first time in school history.
Christiansen placed 31st in one-meter diving (394.30 points) and 33rd in three-meter (354.50).
Fearon competed in both one- and three-meter diving at the 1984 championships in Milwaukee.
Ablard competed in the prelims in the 100 breaststroke in the 1985 championships.
MSU NCAA Qualifiers’ Advice to Le, Kalnins
“Trust in the hard work that you have done leading you up to the meet. You belong on the biggest stage. Swim for yourself but also for your teammates and coaches that have helped you get to this point this season. Take it one race at a time, swim in your lane and don’t worry about who may be in your heat. Trust in what your coaches have done to prepare you this week.
“It is OK to appreciate the fast swimming that will be going on around you. I remember in 2005 it was the first season someone went sub-19 and I remember Freddie Bousquet going 1:31.2 in the 200 free. See what the guys around you are doing well and learn from it. But at the same time, be focused on what you are there to do.
“It meant a lot being only the second (after my boy Wegrzyn) swimmer from SMS/MSU to be representing our university. It feels good being able to represent a school other than your power schools at the biggest meet. Show the big boys that we are just as fast at MSU.”
“The meet was pretty overwhelming for me in the moment, but I took a lot away from competing at the fastest meet in the world. The confidence I gained from going head-to-head with the big dogs gives me drive, energy and ambition to this day. Everything else in life became less intimidating after having competed on the biggest stage and gave it my all. Even if they don't final in their events, they've earned the best seats in the house to watch the fastest swimming in the history of the world.
“Swimming at NCAA's seems different than conference but its not, the only difference is that everyone participating in each event is of a higher caliber and the time differential from first to last is much smaller.”
Bears Win First MAC Championship, 19th League Title
The victory, which the Bears (833 points) claimed over second-place Eastern Michigan, was their 19th overall conference championship and first since joining the Mid-American Conference prior to the 2009-10 season.
The Eagles scored 682 points, followed by Buffalo (657 points), Miami (527), Southern Illinois (383), Ball State (160) and Evansville (153).
"I can't put into words just how proud of I am of this group of men and the staff," said MSU head coach Dave Collins, who was named the MAC Outstanding Swimming Coach of the Year. "This was a true team effort and was a long time coming."
The win also gave MSU a men's and women's sweep of conference championships this season for the first time since 2008 when the women won the Missouri Valley Conference meet and the men took the Sun Belt Conference crown. The MSU women's team won its 11th MVC title and seventh consecutive crown Feb. 15 in Carbondale, Ill.
Kalnins was named MAC Swimmer of the Year while Garrett Nevels picked up MAC Diver of the Year honors.
Bears Topple No. 25 Iowa; Earn Shamrock Invitational Split
Le then won the 100 back (48.29), 100 butterfly (49.14) and 200 back (1:46.60), respectively, on the final day for the Bears. The team of Le, Kalnins, Schuermann and Baryshok won the 400-free relay in 3:00.81, the last event of the meet.
Also, prior to NCAA championships, Kalnins was profiled by Swimming World in its series on first-time NCAA qualifiers.