Cordes is in the conversation - Tucson News Now

Cordes is in the conversation

By Kendra Kautz

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -- Arizona men's swimming and diving has found much success this season and a huge contributor to that is sophomore Kevin Cordes. 
On the second night of the NCAA Championships Cordes made history by breaking the NCAA, American, U.S. Open and school records in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 50.74.   The very next day Cordes swam the fastest ever men's 200m breaststroke in history of the NCAA Championships.
UA Swim coach Eric Hansen compared the feat in the 200 yard event to Bob Beamon's breaking of the world long jump record by two feet at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

"I mean he's the American record holder by three seconds," said Hansen. "This is a sport where first and second (place) are separated by tenths and hundredths (of a second). He separated himself from the rest of the country and now we're going to try and do that with the world this summer."

Cordes was recently named NCAA Swimmer of the year and is now the fourth Arizona men's swimmer to win more than three individual national titles. 

This young swimmer started out of Naperville, Illinois at Neuqua Valley High School where he lettered all four years and still holds the schools record for the 100m breaststroke.

His freshman year at Arizona he earned four All-American honors after winning a title in the 100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay, finished second in the 400 medley relay and third in the 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships.  He broke a pool record, an Arizona record and earned an NCAA "A" cut in the 100 breaststroke and posted an "A" cut in the 200 breaststroke at the Texas Invitational. 
At the end of his first year he placed third in the Olympic trials for the 100m breaststroke.  Coming that close and falling short of the Olympics has been fuel for his sophomore season.
"It was kind of disappointing but at the same time I tried to take it as a positive and really use that as motivation this whole year and just think about that when I was training," said Cordes. 

After breaking multiple records including his own at the NCAAs in Indianapolis, Cordes is starting to see an improvement in himself. 
"After Prelim's I had my best time and it was pretty easy so I was just really trying to have fun with it.  I think that's what helped me drop even more time at finals.  Just having fun with it and going out there and giving it my all," he said. 
Cordes' success has not only made a difference for his chances of going far but in the drive of his teammates. 
"Kevin's really focused but he doesn't hesitate to cheer his teammates on - kind of give them some of his heart, you know, of his achievements.  So we can feed off him," said freshman Michael Meyer.
Looking ahead now that the season is over, Cordes has immediately turned his attention forward to world trials in June.
"He knows he's got a gift and he's worked very hard at the craft," said Arizona head coach Eric Hansen. "We don't even talk times right now but I believe the record is 2:07.01 in the 200 (meter) breaststroke. We definitely want to erase some books, some record books, but that's up to him and consistency."

The U.S. Trials for the 15th Fina World Championships will be held June 25th-29th in Indianapolis, the same site where Cordes had his fabulous NCAA weekend.

The main event starts July 19th and runs thru August 4th in Barcelona, Spain. Just like the Olympics, Cordes will need to finish top-two in one of the breaststroke events in order the make the U.S. team. 

Cordes has shown he can dominate the collegiate realm. Now it's time for him to take that next step against the world.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

David Kelly contributed to this story.

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