And the Arizona freshman was confident he could do exactly that.
To kick off the evening in Federal Way, Wash., he swam the breaststroke leg as the Wildcats set a U.S. record in the 200-yard medley relay.
Saturday night, in a race where the top three were separated by just 9/100ths of a second, Cordes led with 50 yards to go but finished third in the 200 breaststroke in a personal best time of 1 minute, 51.97 seconds. Carlos Almeida of Louisville won in 1:51.88.
"The American record was my goal and I thought I would get it out of the way in prelims and bring it home and get the win (Friday night)," Cordes told ncaa.com.
Cordes' time in the prelims, 51.32 seconds, broke the mark of 51.35 set by Northwestern grad Mike Alexandrov in 2010.
The meet record of 50.86 was set by California's Damir Dugonjic in 2009.
Cordes took the final in 51.71, becoming the first Arizona freshman to win an NCAA title since 2003.
The Arizona medley relay clocked 1 minute, 23.53 seconds to break the record of 1:23.97 set by Texas in 2009.
He also had done the breaststroke leg as Arizona took second in Thursday's 400 medley relay. His split (50.62) easily was the fastest in the competition.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Cordes was a multi-sport athlete until his sophomore year at Neuqua Valley High School, after which he gave up football, basketball and baseball to concentrate on swimming.