A crowd estimated at 2,000 was stunned not once – but twice – over the weekend as two national records were broken during the annual CIF Southern Section swimming championships in Long Beach, Calif.
Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.) senior Cindy Tran set the bar extremely high Friday night while winning the Division I 100-yard backstroke in a national-record 51.85 seconds. The record had been 52.86 by future Olympian Natalie Coughlin of Carondelet (Concord, Calif.) in 1998.
The very next morning, however, Torrance (Calif.) senior Vladimir Morozov led off the Division III 200-yard freestyle relay with a national-record 19.43 leg for 50 yards. The previous 50 free standard had been 19.49 by Jimmy Feigen of Churchill (San Antonio, Texas) in 2008.
Neither of the individuals nor their coaches had anticipated the records leading up to the meet.
"It was a pretty wild scene – really a great surprise," according to Dan Albano, who covered the meet for the Orange County Register. "I don’t think anybody saw her (Tran) taking down the record by a full second. (Morozov) became an instant celebrity here today."
Tran was quick to admit, "I wasn’t expecting that. It wasn’t that great of a year for me. I don’t know what the problem was. Everything just came together. I was trying to win for my team and the time just came with it. When I saw it (the time) on the board, I thought, ‘Was that right?’ ’’
Her career-best time prior to Friday had been 52.52 as a junior.
Torrance co-coach Keith Ryan said, "That (the record) definitely was not even a thought that I had. She had been swimming poorly – for her – and, to be honest, I wondered if she even could win the 100-yard backstroke. She definitely lived in the moment.
"Cindy has been the absolute best for our program. We are just a normal high school. To have something like that happen just enhances our program."
Tran will swim next fall for Cal and hopes to train with, among others, Natalie Coughlin. Asked about the future pressure of being a national record-setter, she replied, "I can definitely see that coming."
Morozov left an indelible mark on American swimming even though the native Russian has been in the USA for just three years. Though he didn’t expect a national record, Morozov did foresee his best time because he did something special prior to the meet.
"I shaved (his body) for the first time in my life," he revealed.
"My coach (Scott Peppard) made me do it. I did expect to drop time. It feels great. It doesn’t happen every day," he laughed. "I’m really tired right now."
Peppard noted, "I’m pretty shocked. I’ve never seen him so happy. On his start alone he was ahead by a half-body-length. He is incredibly fast and incredibly fast on under-water take-offs and turns. The guy trains all-out every day."
The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder credits his Russian Olympic coach, Igor Demin, for teaching him "how to prepare mentally and physically." He will take that huge work ethic to the University of Southern California in the fall.
"He’s never done any real weight training. He’s a diamond in the rough and is only going to get better. He’s going to go on to do great things," Peppard predicted.