2023 NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Many years before Mel Stewart would become the co-founder of SwimSwam, he was a pretty decent swimmer himself…and by “pretty decent” we mean a two-time Olympic gold medalist and former 200 fly world record holder.
Along the way, the man we now affectionately call “Gold Medal Mel” went 1:41.78 in the 200 yard fly while representing Tennessee at the 1991 NCAA Championships. That time set a NCAA record that lasted until Gil Stovall went 1:41.33 in 2008 (although Michael Phelps had taken the American and US Open records under 1:40 in the meantime).
Of course, Stewart’s time also set a Tennessee school record that lasted far longer. In fact, it lasted until today.
In this morning’s prelims session, Volunteer freshman Martin Espernberger improved his best time from 1:41.91 to 1:41.39, tying for 8th place overall, and breaking Stewart’s 32 year-old Tennessee school record in the event.
🚨 𝐏𝐑𝐎𝐆𝐑𝐀𝐌 𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐎𝐑𝐃 🚨
The longest-standing program record in Tennessee history has fallen after 32 years!
Martin Espernberger throws down a 1:41.39 in the 200 fly to top the legendary @goldmedalmel’s insane 1:41.78 from ‼️𝟏𝟗𝟗𝟏‼️#GBO x #IGTBATV🍊 pic.twitter.com/CNgeXrAwji
— Tennessee Swimming & Diving (@Vol_SwimDive) March 25, 2023
While Espernberger is an Austrian native, he’d spent the past couple of years living and competing in the United States, so he had plenty of SCY swims coming into his freshman year at Tennessee, with a pre-college lifetime best of 1:46.01. He rapidly improved in his first semester in Knoxville, going 1:42.56 in December, before dropping about half a second at SECs, and even more time today.
While he lost the swim-off for the A-final against Michigan’s Gal Cohen Groumi, Espernberger will get another shot at lowering the Tennessee school record even further from lane 4 of the B-final tonight.