Swimming: Bears pummel Panthers

| Senior Sports Editor

Washington University swimmers took to the starting blocks and left the Principia College Panthers in their wake as the men’s team routed the competition 134-76 and the women picked up a 116-73 win.

The Bears captured first place in 16 events, with the men taking 10 and the women winning six. The Red and Green raced in many of its nontraditional events, with distance swimmers competing in sprints and short distance swimmers in long-distance events.

Several captains viewed the change in pace as a morale booster.

“All of us were swimming our off events to have fun and do something different,” senior co-captain Dan Arteaga said.

One of the closest races pitted two Wash. U. 200-yard medley relay squads against each other. The B squad, consisting of junior Kartik Anjur, seniors Arteaga and Alex Beyer and sophomore Ben Halperin, edged out the A squad of sophomores Billy Griffitts and Nick Thornburg, junior David Chao and senior Brian Kushner by 0.03 seconds. Down by more than a second in the final leg, Kushner almost came back to secure the win over his teammates.

Other first-place finishes included Kushner in the 100 freestyle, Arteaga in the 200 freestyle, senior Dima Galkin in the 200-yard individual medley, Chao in the 100 butterfly, Anjur in the 200 free, and freshman Brendan Morin in the 1,000 freestyle. Sophomore John Rao took the top spot in the 1-meter diving competition, besting three Panthers with 215.45 points.

Freshman Sarah Paleg won the women’s 1-meter diving competition.

“It’s amazing having [divers] both from the points stand point and the team stand point,” senior co-captain Jessie Lodewyk said.

Last season, Wash. U. did not field divers.

The entire team recently returned from their annual training trip in Florida.

“It’s almost like a whole new season,” Lodewyk said. “This year more than any other, we’ve seen underclassmen step up.”

Other top finishes for the women’s team included Lodewyk in the 200 IM; freshmen Grace Preston and Veronica Tse in the 200 freestyle and 1,000 freestyle, respectively; and junior Karin Underwood in the 100 butterfly. Wash. U.’s 200 medley and 200 free relay squads also picked up victories.

Several Wash. U. swimmers pointed to sophomore Michael Flanagan’s 100-butterfly as a standout performance from the meet. Flanagan turned in the top time of 1:03.44.

One of the events with the biggest buildup was the 400 freestyle relay. The Bears C squad defeated Principia’s squad last weekend at the Wash. U. Invitational by about a half second. As a result, the Panthers challenged the Bears to a rematch, according to junior Justin Chen.

Joining Chen’s squad were sophomores JD Scott and Evan Dorshorst and senior John Vanlishout.

“We really didn’t want to lose to Principia,” Chen said. “We [even] had a special cheer.”

The Bears outdid the Panthers by 0.95 seconds, turning in a time of 3:19.75. It was also the first time Chen broke 50 seconds in a leg, with a 49.7 split time. “It was just palpable how exciting it was,” sophomore Karina Stridh said. “Everyone had their hearts beating out of their chests.”

Friday’s meet was the squad’s final competition before the University Athletic Association championships. According to Kushner, this is the hardest the team has trained in his four years at Wash. U. Kushner attributes this effort to the team capitalizing on last year’s success at nationals, in which the men’s team had its second best performance in program history with a seventh-place finish.

The UAA championships will be hosted by Emory University from Feb. 17-20 in Atlanta. Emory’s men’s team is ranked fourth in the nation, while the Lady Eagles are top ranked. Several UAA schools, including Carnegie Mellon University, University of Chicago and New York University, also boast nationally ranked programs.

In the lead up to conference play, the team focuses on team bonding, according to Stridh. The women’s team traditionally makes funny necklaces for each other and plans on making a banner for conference play. Each swimmer is responsible for a tile that will ultimately spell out Go Bears. “We goof around, and it’s so much fun, but at the same time we get really intense too, especially before swim meets,” Stridh said. “You know you have your team there, and you know that  you can always rely on your team because they’re going to do the best they can.”