Swimming: Men finish in 4th place, women in 6th as Bears claim UAA title in two events
After three days of swimming in Atlanta, the Washington University men’s and women’s swimming squads finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the University Athletic Association championship meet.
The UAA proved to be a very competitive conference, with two women’s squads and three men’s teams ranked in the top 10 nationally. Host school Emory University claimed the top spot in both men’s and women’s competition.
“I think the UAA is one of the best conferences in Division III,” said senior co-captain Dima Galkin, who claimed two top-eight finishes and was a member of the 400 medley relay team. “Whereas some other conferences might have two schools in the top 10, the UAA has sometimes three or even four. Even though Emory was at the top, that doesn’t detract from other teams, especially Chicago, [that] improved a lot from this year to last year.”
The multi-day structure of the meet challenged the Bears. According to Galkin, experience with a two-day meet earlier in the season in addition to the support of teammates helped maintain energy throughout the competition.
“We started off kind of slow as a team, and we just got stronger throughout the entire meet, and I think it was really a matter of being mentally tough, because we definitely started off with some low swims,” senior co-captain Jessie Lodewyk said. “It gets hard to keep yourself mentally ready to go, and we definitely kept our energy up and [were] thinking positive.”
In the latter two days of the meet, the men’s squad earned the UAA championship in two events. On Friday, junior David Chao claimed the top spot in the 200 freestyle. His time of 1:41.42 earned all-UAA recognition and an NCAA provisional cut. Chao was also runner-up in the 100 freestyle, earning all-UAA honors and a provisional cut in that race.
Saturday, the men’s 400 freestyle relay team of freshman Mark Minowitz, senior Dan Arteaga, junior Kartik Anjur and Chao earned Wash. U.’s second straight conference title in that event. The team finished the meet’s last race in 3:05.02 and earned another NCAA provisional cut. “David Chao came back on the anchor leg and he caught the Emory guy who was in the lead…It was a really good split and it was the fastest split in that race,” Galkin said. “It really stood out especially because it was the last race.”
Performances by the women’s squad were highlighted by Lodewyk’s performances in the 500 and 1,650 freestyles. In the 1,650, her second-place time of 17:12.67 automatically qualified her for competition at the NCAA Division III championships. In addition, sophomore Karina Stridh earned all-UAA recognition in two events, placing third in the 50 freestyle and second in the 100 backstroke.
“I felt pretty good about [my swims],” Stridh said. “I had a bit of a rocky year myself. I had some issues with my shoulders and hadn’t been hitting the same times as last year. I got season-best times in everything I swam. Even in terms of standings, I didn’t expect to do as well as I did.”
The team focuses on the NCAA’s national championship meet, March 17-20 in Minneapolis. According to Lodewyk, although the team tapers for conference, swimmers will re-taper before the Division III national championships.
“Next step is nationals and it [definitely] becomes a whole new ball game” Lodewyk said. “[Training] gets more stroke intensive, a lot more focused on technique. You also just have to get mentally ready because nationals is just a huge step up in accomplishment.”