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[February 11, 2010]

College swimming: UTPB hopes to send first swimmers to nationals: Sarradet and McKinlay have best chances at advancing

Feb 11, 2010 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- An "A" cut time.

For the UTPB swimming team, that's the Holy Grail the Falcons are seeking.

Plenty of other milestones are probably going to fall at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships at the Meyers Pool in Arvada, Colo.

Personal bests. School records. If everything follows to form, the Falcons will probably bring home a conference champion or two.

But it's that "A" cut time that could make this meet a success.

"We need this to happen," UTPB coach Rob Rankin said. "For publicity, for the ability to take a swimmer to the national championships, to get better swimmers to come to the school." An "A" cut time qualifies a swimmer to compete at the NCAA Division II National Championships.

In three seasons at the NCAA Division II level, UTPB has never sent a swimmer to the national meet.

But this time Rankin thinks a couple of his kids have a shot to take multiple events to the national level.

All Joseph Sarradet and Sam McKinlay need to do is nail one "A" cut.

"Once you get the first 'A' cut time, you can swim in any event that you have a 'B' cut time at nationals," Rankin said. "We've never had a national qualifier." Sarradet and McKinlay, who have swum "B" cut times in every individual event they regularly swim this season, already have the big-meet chops to become the first.

Both swimmers competed for the Falcons as freshmen a year ago and staked a claim to the team's leadership roles by pulling off a feat most UTPB swimmers didn't come close to getting.

A Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship.

Sarradet took the title in the 100-yard individual medley. McKinlay picked up his title in the 1,650 freestyle.

And both swimmers are flirting with "A" cut times in more than one event.

Sarradet's fastest time in the 100 butterfly is only a second slower than an "A" cut time. McKinlay has flirted with an "A" cut time in the 200 butterfly and the 400 individual medley.

Now, both swimmers have to trust the taper that Rankin put them through to end the season.

At most regular-season meets, swimmers are sore from the training work put in at practice. To get ready for the RMAC Championships, though, Rankin -- and almost every other swim coach -- dials back his team's workload to get every ounce of speed out of fresh muscles.

"That's what we're thriving on, is all the energy we have," Sarradet said. "The biggest key to swimming well at conference is the work put in during practice throughout the year." Sarradet and McKinlay also have a chance to swim against an extremely fast field.

Putting a fast swimmer in the next lane forces the Falcons to dig deep to compete. And the deeper UTPB digs, the faster times the Falcons put on the board.

"The faster the competition is, it can kind of show you how fast you can really go," McKinlay said.

Sarradet and McKinlay don't know how fast they'll swim this weekend.

But UTPB would let loose in celebration if either one becomes the first Falcons swimmer to make it to the national championships.

THE BASICS -- What: Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships -- When: Preliminaries, 9 a.m. MST, Feb. 11-13; Finals, 4 p.m. MST, Feb. 11-13 -- Where: Meyers Pool, Arvada, Colo.

-- RMAC Teams: UTPB, Incarnate Word, Colorado School of Mines, Mesa State, Adams State, Nebraska-Kearney, Grand Canyon, Northern State, MSU-Moorhead.

To see more of the Odessa American, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.oaoa.com. Copyright (c) 2010, Odessa American, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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