INDIANAPOLIS – For the second year in a row, Matthew Holmes will be bringing home an individual national championship for the Florida Southern men's swimming program. The senior from Rockledge, Florida successfully defended his title in the 400-individual medley by finishing more than two seconds ahead of his closest pursuer to claim his second medal of the meet.
At 3:47.48, Holmes just missed his own school record by three-tenths of a second, which he set at last year's national finals. He joins Jeb Halfacre as the only Moccasin men's swimmers with multiple individual national championships. Halfacre won three straight titles in the 200-backstroke from 2010-12. Holmes has now won six NCAA medals in his career, three as an individual and three as a relay swimmer, and has 10 career individual All-American or honorable mention All-American awards.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- One night after taking silver in the 200-IM, Holmes was in the water as the defending national champion in the 400-yard version. After falling behind Simon Fraser's Adrian VanderHelm, Lindenwood's Cristian Vasquez, and Grand Valley State's Keegan Hawkins during the opening butterfly leg, Holmes caught all three of them during the backstroke and turned into the breaststroke less than half a second ahead of VanderHelm. By the time that portion of the race ended, Holmes had increased his lead to 3.6 seconds, and though VanderHelm cut into it during the freestyle, that gap was too much to overcome. Holmes was nearly joined in the championship final by sophomore teammate Matias Lopez, but Lopez suffered a DQ during the prelims after posting an unofficial time of 3:52.25.
- First up for Florida Southern Thursday night was the 200-freestyle relay team of junior Talor Hamilton, sophomore Carlos Bernotti, sophomore Brandon Dyck, and senior Nico Campbell. They got the Mocs their first relay points of the meet by placing 15th in 1:21.72, and for Campbell it was the seventh All-American relay award of his career. Queens (NC) won the relay in 1:18.37, the sixth different school in the last six years to take that event.
- Florida Southern had two swimmers in the 100-butterfly, but Dyck and sophomore Miguel Bernotti were eliminated during prelims. Dyck had a career-best time of 48.21, but fell 0.14 seconds of advancing. Bernotti had a time of 49.02. Queens senior Marius Kusch won his second national title of the meet after setting a new Division II record in the 100-fly by swimming the championship final in 44.32 seconds.
- Campbell finished tied for 11th in the 200-freestyle, touching in 1:37.43, which was a little over half a second from winning the consolation final. He was the top swimmer though from the Sunshine State Conference, beating SSC champion Cam Newton by almost three seconds after they were separated by 0.66 seconds three weeks ago. Campbell is now an honorable mention All-American in the 200-free for the third year in a row. The Moccasins also had senior Luka Planinc qualify for the 200-free, but he was eliminated during prelims after a time of 1:40.34. Meanwhile, Queens freshman Alex Kunert matched his senior teammate Marius Kusch by claiming his second national title in as many nights, posting a time of 1:33.56.
- The Moccasins' 400-medley relay team of Dyck, freshman Dorian Bachlaj, Miguel Bernotti, and Holmes placed 15th in the final event of the night. They put together a time of 3:17.49, with Dyck earning his second honorable mention All-American award of the night as a relay swimmer. Queens won its third relay of the meet, and its eighth event, by posting a time of 3:08.15.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Queens (NC) widened its lead in the team standings over Delta State (MS) to 331-200½. Indianapolis remained in third place with 156 points, Grand Valley State (MI) moved up into fourth with 140 points, and Wayne State (MI) is now fifth with 135½ points. Florida Tech is the highest team from the Sunshine State Conference in sixth place with 107½ points, with Nova Southeastern ninth with 97, and Florida Southern 14th with 59½.
Day three of the NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships begins Friday at 10 a.m. with finals in five events Friday night at 6 p.m.