Historic 200 Backstroke Swim Qualifies Le for NCAA Consolation Finals
March 30, 2013
Video Highlights and Interview | Results
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - On the final day of the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, Missouri State sophomore Paul Le solidified himself as one of the nation's best 200-yard backstroke swimmers with the 12th-fastest time (1:41.69) in Saturday's prelims. Entering NCAAs as the 18th-seed in the event, Le moved up six places to become the first Bear in program history to make the NCAA Championship finals.
"It's so exciting for him," said head coach Dave Collins. "We talked all year about opportunity and when you get the opportunity to maximize it. That's what he did and I was really proud of him for that. This is a huge step for our program and we're really moving in a great direction."
En route to an evening swim in Saturday's consolation finals, Le lowered his previous MSU record by .75 seconds. The two-time All-MAC selection took out the first 100 yards in 49.51 and brought it home in 52.18 to pick up a third-place finish in Heat 4.
Eighth-place qualifier Kip Darmody of Texas finished just .24 seconds ahead of Le to snag the last spot in the A-Final. Compared to the 2012 NCAA Championships, Le's 1:41.69 would have placed fifth overall in last year's preliminary session.
The sophomore from Moore, Okla., puts Missouri State on the NCAA map, as it marks the first time that the Bears will score points at the prestigious NCAA Division I meet. Prior to Le, the highest finish by a Missouri State swimmer or diver was Josh Wegrzyn in 2002, placing 20th in the 100-yard backstroke.
Athletes who finish places 9-16 in the consolation finals at the NCAA Championships receive All-American honorable mention recognition, which makes Le the first All-American at the Division I swimming & diving level for the Bears.
"After I touched the wall, I couldn't believe it," Le said as he described his emotions follow the race. "I looked at my name, it said Paul Le, a 1:41, and it took me a while to comprehend that. I didn't really think I went that fast. After swimming races the last couple of days, I guess the 200 back made up for it."
Saturday's finals session will be televised by ESPN3. Le's 200 backstroke is the first event of the evening and will air at approximately 7 p.m. eastern time. Fans can also follow @MissouriStBears on Twitter for live updates from IU Natatorium.