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Frank Applebaum atop the NCAA podium (photo by Aaron Gray)
Frank Applebaum atop the NCAA podium (photo by Aaron Gray)

Frank Applebaum Sets New NCAA Record to Win National Title in 200 Fly

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Frank Applebaum knocked over a half-second off the NCAA Division III in the 200-yard butterfly, while winning the race by over two seconds, as he captured a national title in 1:44.01 on the third day of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday at the IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI.

Nick Tekieli, who came in as the 16th seed in the 100 back, also earned All-America honors with a third-place finish in 46.99, breaking the program record set by the last CMS swimmer to win a national title, Matt Williams, who swam a 47.57 in 2016 to finish first.

Applebaum shattered the previous CMS record in the 200 fly, which was set by Matt Valentine in 2016 at 1:48.70. He already set that record with the 1:46.06 set at the SCIAC Championships, and he had the fastest time in the NCAA prelims, just off his SCIAC-winning pace at  1:46.49. 

He was clearly holding back a little for the finals, though, as he exploded for the fastest swim in NCAA Division III history, breaking his own record by over two seconds, finishing in just 1:44.01. Jesse Ssengonzi of Chicago won a close battle for second place over Richie Kurlich of Denison, 1:46.02 to 1:46.06, but Applebaum was way out in front of both of them, winning by a margin of 2.01 seconds. 

The old NCAA Division III record had stood for five years, since Brandon Lum of WashU swam a 1:44.56 at the 2017 NCAA Championships. Applebaum was able to knock .55 off that standard in his first NCAA event for the Stags. 

Tekieli normally would be the big story of the day, coming out of nowhere as the 16th seed to finish second in prelims with a 47.22, breaking Williams' program record, and then earning a third-place finish to take All-America honors in 46.99. He became the first CMS swimmer to break 47 seconds in the back, after swimming a 19.98 in the 50 free on Wednesday to become the first sub-20 second swimmer in CMS history in that event as well. 

Applebaum was also part of an 800-yard freestyle relay team that added six points to the CMS total by finishing in 14th place, along with Lucas Lang, Eric Workman and Anderson Breazeale.

CMS stands in eighth place heading into the final day with 172 points, well ahead of ninth-place WashU with 112. Emory leads with 338 while Denison is second with 257 and Johns Hopkins third with 248. 

The Stags will look to put the finishing touches on a top-10 finish tomorrow on the final day of the NCAA Championships. Lang will be a top competitor in the 1650, where he is seeded fifth, while Breazeale is the 11th seed in the 200 back.