Cornell men’s swim and dive junior Alex Evdokimov traveled to Indianapolis this weekend to compete in the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships; he returns to Ithaca with All-American honors in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Evdokimov swam in the prelims of the 100 breaststroke on Friday morning, finishing 11th to guarantee himself a spot in the consolation finals that evening. In the prelims, he swam in a time of 52.19 — just .06 off the school record time. In the finals that night, Evdokimov came back to swim 52.47, earning 14th place overall in the event.
On Saturday morning, the junior guaranteed his spot in the finals of the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:54.13 in the prelims. In the consolation finals, he swam 1:54.22, to finish 13th overall.
Evdokimov’s performances earned him All-American honors in both events. He has now earned three individual All-American accolades, a feat never-before accomplished by a Cornell swimmer, something even more impressive considering the incredibly competitive field this year.
Though not Evdokimov’s event, four swimmers — Jor Schooling, Caleb Dressel, Jack Conger and Ryan Held — medaled in the 100 butterfly in Rio this past Olympics, showcasing the level of competition this year’s NCAAs consisted of.
“This meet is arguably the fastest swimming competition in the world from a depth standpoint,” said head coach Wes Newman ’09. “It is incredible to see that kind of talent swimming in the NCAA. It was incredible to watch.”
And as a sport that is decided by the slimmest of margins, that was just the case for Evdokimov at NCAAs.
“If Alex had been two tenths faster in the 100 breaststroke in prelims, he would have been in the top eight,” Newman said. “However, had he been three tenths slower, he would have not even been in the top 16.”
Though Evdokimov did not find himself on the podium, his coach is incredibly proud of the effort Evdokimov put forth, especially to land himself a spot in consolation finals.
“The fact that Alex swam his fastest races in prelims, securing himself a position in his final races, is very important and is a good thing,” Newman said. “Obviously each time you swim you are hoping to go faster, however you can not be disappointed with great prelim swims that advance you to the consolation finals.”
Going into the meet, Newman said that Evdokimov would concentrate on having strong performances in the mornings to ensure times in the prelims good enough to qualify himself for finals each evening. Evdokimov followed through; although he did not see any personal best times at the meet, he came close enough to his best in prelims to compete against some of the fastest swimmers collegiate swimming has to offer in the finals.
At NCAA’s last year, Evdokimov did not make the finals in the 100 breaststroke, finishing 23rd overall, whereas he did make the finals in the 200 breaststroke and finished 15th overall to earn his first All-American accolades.
His success this weekend brought the long 2016-17 season to a close for the Cornell program and Evdokimov, for whom NCAA’s was the culmination of many months of intense training and competition.
“Alex will take some time off to relax after a long season, and will be ready to start working towards next year in a few short weeks,” Newman said.