Swimming and Diving's typical long break through November and December gives everyone a chance to hit top form through January and February into the MAC Championships, but this year also gave sophomore breaststroker Itai De La Vega a chance to represent his native Israel at the LEN (European) Short Course Championships, hosted by his home country in Netanya, Israel.
"Short Course" refers to the length of the pool (25 meters) and sits in opposition to "Long Course" races (50 meters). The Olympics and FINA World Championships are held in Long Course settings, but NCAA competition is conducted in a Short Course setting, which is almost always faster as a result of extra speed boosts from the turns.
De La Vega competed in both the 50 and 100 meter races of his signature breaststroke discipline, finishing second in both of his qualifying heats, but failing to advance to the semifinals:
50 Breast: :27.65
100 Breast: 1:00.77
Each of these times are short of Itai's best, in part because NCAA competition is in yards, rather than meters. Over a 50 meter stretch, that means an extra 14 feet, and 28 extra feet over a 100 meter stretch.
Only the freestyle discipline has a 50 yard event in NCAA competition, but we do see 50 yard chunks in the other disciplines during 200 medley relays, where De La Vega's season best is :24.80 this year. (Relay legs are typically faster due to quicker starts off the block.)
In the 100 meter breaststroke, 1:00.77 is nearly six full seconds off De La Vega's season best at 100 yards, but both discrepancies are about in line with the difference in distance.
Results aside, De La Vega joins a growing list of Bulls to represent their countries in international competition, including in the last twelve months Jon Jones, Mike Morgan, and Jack Jibb (Track and Field), Courtney Gilbert (Softball), Tom Murphy (Baseball), Mirte Scheper (Women's Basketball), Nate Rose (Wrestling), and Nikola Rakicevic of Men's Basketball.