By (James Ogletree)

Alabama finished the third day of the NCAA championship in 12th place with 98 points, just five points out of 10th place. On the third day, the Crimson Tide broke three different school records, adding 66 points to its total.

Alabama senior swimmer Connor Oslin set a school record in the 100 backstroke Friday to finish third in the country, with junior Luke Kaliszak right behind him, taking fourth.

Oslin was already the school record holder in the 100 backstroke before he swam a 44.59 in prelims. He beat his own record again just eight hours later with a 44.56, the fifth-fastest 100 backstroke time in the NCAA history, even beating Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.

Kaliszak recorded a career-best 44.91, joining Oslin as only the second Alabama swimmer to ever break 45 seconds in the 100 backstroke.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a school with two guys under 45 seconds in the 100 backstroke at the same time,” head coach Dennis Pursley said. “To have Connor and Luke go third and fourth behind an Olympic gold medalist [champion Ryan Murphy] was amazing.”

It was Oslin’s third consecutive top-five finish in the 100 backstroke, following a fifth-place finish in 2015 and second-place in 2016. Kaliszak also placed in the 100 backstroke last year, finishing 13th.

Elsewhere, the team began the 200 medley relay as the seventh seed, but significantly exceeded expectations.

Oslin led off with a 20.39, the fastest opening leg by any leadoff swimmer in the event. Senior Pavel Romanov, Kaliszak, and freshman Zane Waddell all swam career bests in their respective legs, leading to a school-record time of 1:21.89, earning second place. The time would have set a new NCAA record, but Texas clocked in at 1:21.54.

“All four guys went life-time best time and they just nailed it – starts, turns – they put it all together under the NCAA record,” Pursley said. “It wasn’t quite good enough for the win, but to take second place from an outside lane, we’ll take it and be excited about it.”

Alabama was the defending champion in the 200 medley relay from last year, when it finished one-hundredth of a second off the NCAA record. However, Kristian Gkolomeev, who swam one of the fastest-ever legs of the 200 medley relay, finished his eligibility, so the Crimson Tide was not expected to repeat that success. Instead, Alabama’s time this year was 0.39 seconds faster than its championship time and previous school record from last year.

“It was a great night for us,” Pursley said. “I’m real proud of these guys for the way they responded to the 400 medley relay. [after] Being disqualified yesterday by coming back with a great day.”

Senior Anton McKee placed in the 100 breaststroke for the second straight year, improving to 16th overall and dropping 0.19 seconds from last year’s time with a 52.59 this year.

“It started tonight with Anton in the breaststroke, and while I think he was a little disappointed, his best event comes tomorrow, and we’re optimistic that he’ll be ready for that,” Pursley said.

Alabama swimming concludes its season Saturday with four races: the 200 backstroke (where Oslin and junior Christopher Reid are both top-12 seeds), 100 freestyle, 200 breast (where McKee is seeded second after finishing fourth last year), and 400 freestyle relay. Prelims begin at 9 a.m., while finals start at 5 p.m.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports