Is a National Champion, Again!
title in 200-yard butterfly for second consecutive year
Anne C. Paine and Dick Michaels
John Limouze did it again.
NCAA Division III champion in the 200-yard butterfly successfully
defended his title at the 2001 cham-pionship meet, held last March
in Buffalo, New York.
doing so, he also achieved a personal goal of shaving his time to
under 1 minute, 50 seconds, making him just the fourth swimmer in
NCAA Division III history to break that mark in the 200 butterfly
Limouze, it was the fourth trip in as many years to the national
meet, where he's made the 200 butterfly his signature event. A double
major in history and biology, Limouze placed fifth in the event
during his freshman year, third in his sophomore year, and first
both last year and this. With his first national championship, achieved
in March 2000, he became Oberlin's sixth national champion in swimming
and diving since 1988.
year's race was extremely close and exciting.
had been seeded fourth coming into the meet, with a time of 1:51.27
at last December's Miami invitational. In the preliminary heats,
he qualified second with a time of 1:50.87, well behind the leader,
Sebastian Popa of Emory University, who clocked 1:50.14.
the finals, Limouze trailed Popa at the 100-yard mark 52.25 to 54.01,
and was in eighth place, but then he began his drive to the finish.
He was in third place at the 150-yard mark, but by the 175-yard
mark, he had a half-body length lead, which he maintained to the
strategy is to save his energy for the second half of
I like to be three seconds slower on the second 100 yards than on
the first," he said.
"In the final race, there was only a 1.5-second difference
between the two splits. Part of that was due to a tactical error
on my part – I was too slow going out, even for me, and had little
extra energy for the last half. But I also knew, once I started
to get tired going into the last length, that I only had 10 or 15
more seconds of swimming for the rest of my life. That helped me
ignore the pain.
knew even before the race started that I had a chance to win, no
matter where I was at the halfway mark," he continued. "I
have always been a good finisher, though I have less breakaway speed
than most of the people I race against. When I finished, I thought
I had won, but didn't know for sure until I saw the clock."
was proud to take the first-place trophy, but took more satisfaction
from meeting the challenge he'd set for himself. After winning last
year in a time of 1:50.47, it was his goal to break 1:50.00. He
did -- with a time of 1:49.85 -- beating the second-place swimmer,
Carlos Vega of Kenyon College, who clocked 1:50.40.
best feeling was having broken 1:50.00. For a 200 flyer, that is
a pretty big mark, maybe analogous to a running a sub-4:00 mile,"
Limouze said. "It had been my goal for a long time, and to
accomplish it on my last race was more important than anything else."
he added, "Winning was nice, though."
was accompanied to Buffalo by a large group of Oberlin teammates
and friends, as well as Athletic Director Mike Muska, all of whom
drove through a blizzard to cheer on the lone Obie at the event.
always better to perform for a crowd, and they were the loudest
and most visible fans there," Limouze said. "Swimmers
from bigger and better teams were amazed that one swimmer would
get so many fans, especially in such terrible weather. It definitely
helped me swim better."
his Oberlin career, Limouze was a two-year team co-captain and a
four-time most valuable swimmer, and he earned NCAA All-America
recognition four times.
championship was a tremendous conclusion to Limouze's outstanding
swimming career at Oberlin," said Dick Michaels, head coach
of Oberlin's swimming teams.