The College of Staten Island men’s swimming and diving program sent five individuals to the 2011 NCAA Division III National Championship at the Allan Jones Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, this week, and four were on display on Day Two of competition, a very successful one for the Dolphins.  On the heels of a bronze medal yesterday, freshman Danila Novikov placed 10th in the field (and second among all freshmen) in the 400-yard Individual Medley competition, and in the evening finale, the team of Vladislav Romanov, Pavel Buyanov, Nikolay Shevchenko, and Novikov paced CSI to a sixth place finish, the best ever for a CSI relay team at the national championship.
Swimming at the University of Tennessee starting in the morning and the fourth event was Novikov’s showing in the 400 IM.  Needing to race in the top eight for a chance to medal, Novikov knew he would need a good performance, as the freshman was seeded 8th in the field.  As was the case in the 200 IM last night, Novikov shined on the back end, posting a better split time during the breaststroke portion of the event than half of the competitors seeded above him.  Even with the outstanding performance, Novikov’s time of 4:00.69 was not good enough for medal qualification, landing him in 11th place.  The finish did, however, mean that Novikov would return to the evening heat and a chance to score points in the second heat.
In the evening, Novikov had the advantage of swimming in one of the interior lanes in the second heat, unlike last night, and this time the frosh made the difference show.  Only a single swimmer was faster in the pool and Novikov’s time of 3:59.23 marked a new personal, CSI, and CUNYAC best, good for 10th overall.  Mixed in with the medal heat, Novikov’s time was good enough for 9th.  Paul Dyrkacz, who took gold in the 200 IM last night struck gold again with a time of 3:52.97, followed by Christopher Bateman of St. Olaf College (3:54.74) and Daniel Thurston (3:55.22).
The final swimming event of the day was the 400-yard Medley Relay, and CSI was looking to follow up a 17th place finish last night, with a stronger showing today, and the Dolphins delivered.  CSI was seeded 15th going into the competition, so although they were looked at as a favorite to be welcomed back in the evening to earn a scoring place, not many pegged the Dolphins to finish in the top eight with a chance to medal in the evening.  But the Dolphins had other plans.
The relay began with a blazing performance by Romanov in the backstroke, notching his 100 yards in 50.85 to get CSI started in 7th place.  Next was three-time NCAA Champion Pavel Buyanov, who blitzed through a 55.28 performance in the next 100 yards in the breaststroke, giving CSI the 4th best time in the field.  Senior Nik Shevchenko followed with a 50.17 display in the Butterfly, and Novikov finished it off with a 45.89 display in the Freestyle.  The combined effort totaled 3:22.19, a full 2.03 seconds ahead of their qualifying time, landing the Dolphins in 8th place and in contention for a medal.
The amazing morning run was going to be hard to top in the evening, but the senior-laden Dolphins saved their best run for last.  Romanov, Buyanov, and Novikov all improved on their morning times with Shevchenko posting just a hair over.  The result was a 3:21.16 finish, gaining them two more spots to sixth.  How impressive were the Dolphins?  Romanov’s and Buyanov’s legs were one-second off of what would be NCAA record times in the 100-yard event (which they will both compete in tomorrow).  Romanov’s 50.58 time in the evening heat is a school and CUNYAC record, and the overall time is also a CSI and CUNYAC record.
Kenyon College won the event overall with a mark of 3:15.35, a new NCAA record.  Denison College took silver at 3:16.29, while Amherst College scored the bronze with a mark of 3:18.76.
CSI has more on tap tomorrow, including Pavel Buyanov as a strong candidate for a medal in the 100-yard breaststroke, where he currently seeded second.