March 20, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Johns Hopkins junior John Thomas (Montrose, CO/Montrose) entered the 2009 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships as the defending national champion in the 200 backstroke. He'll look to defend that championship on Saturday, but didn't wait that long to make his mark on the championships as he won the national championship in the 100 backstroke Friday evening. He is the first Johns Hopkins swimmer to win the 100 back at the NCAA championships since Chris Ornee in 1993. He joins Ornee and Mark Horning (1973) as the only Hopkins swimmers to win the 100 back at the NCAA Championships.
Johns Hopkins currently sits in 11th place in the overall team standings as the Blue Jays have accumulated 98 points through the first three days of the championship. Entering Saturday's final day of competition the Blue Jays sit just eight points out of seventh place and 19 points out of fifth place.
Thomas set an NCAA record with a time of 48.52 in the preliminaries and then cruised to the title with a time of 48.65. He beat runner-up Robert Barry of Denison by nearly a second (49.43) and was the only swimmer in the event to break the 49-second mark in the preliminaries or finals. In addition, he broke his own previous school record of 48.81 and now holds nine of the top 10 times in the event in school history.
In addition to Thomas' efforts in the 100 back, the Blue Jays also earned a 10th-place finish in the 800 free relay. Freshman Stephen Niemiec (Rochester Hills, MI/Rochester Adams) joined Thomas and seniors Dave Postetter (Kenmore, WA/Inglemoor) and Colin Kleinguetl (Kingwood, TX/Kingwood) on the team, which clocked in at 6:46.49.
Thomas will look to defend his national championship in the 200 back on Saturday, when he could become the first Johns Hopkins swimmer to win back-to-back titles in the same event since Matt Johnson won four straight titles in the 100 butterfly (1995-98).
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