Swimming falls short at Southern Illinois

| Sports Reporter

On Saturday afternoon, the Washington University men’s and women’s swimming teams competed in a dual meet with Division I Southern Illinois University. Despite their valiant efforts, the Bears fell short, leaving Carbondale, Ill., with 15 second-place and 18 third-place finishes.

With a final score of 145-79, the women’s team fell to the Salukis but ended the meet with eight second-place and eight third-place finishes. The men lost 144-73 while claiming seven second-place and 10 third-place finishes.

The Bears swam back-to-back meets as the team swept Principia College in Elsah, Ill., on Friday night, with the men winning 130-27 and the women 139-38. The teams knew that the SIU meet would be a mentally and physically challenging task.

“They’re a scary Division I team,” head coach Brad Shively said. “It isn’t an everyday current to have a Division III program against a Division I. We knew it would be a hard challenge. I thought our distance swims were very strong.”

Some highlights on the men’s side included senior Chris Valach, who led the team with three second-place finishes, two individuals and one relay. In the 200-yard backstroke, Valach put together a strong race, finishing with a time of 1:58.87, only 2.93 seconds off the pace. He also earned second-place in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:53.24, 10.26 seconds behind first-place.

Sophomore Brian Carpenter swam strongly in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:11.84, only 3.44 seconds behind first place, while junior Mark Minowitz raced well in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing in 49.09 seconds and only 0.14 seconds off the pace.

In the 400-yard freestyle, the Bears team of Valach, freshman Matt Nutter, sophomore Jack Walker and freshman Luke Dobben put together a great performance, finishing only 9.2 seconds behind SIU’s first-place team.

Freshman Zane Turpin also swam well for the Bears as he finished the meet with two second-place finishes: the 200-yard butterfly in 1:57.27 and the 500-yard freestyle in 4:51.47.

On the women’s side, sophomore Chi Pham had two second-place finishes. Pham swam the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:31.64 and the 100-yard freestyle in 55.05, only 0.99 seconds away from first.

Freshman Sara Taege also performed impressively at the meet, ending the meet with two second-place finishes. She was only 3.04 seconds away from first place in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:13.37. She also competed well in the 200-yard freestyle, finishing the race in 1:58.95, 3.60 seconds off her pace.

In the 400-yard freestyle relay, Taege, sophomore Allison Siegel, freshman Katie Crist and junior Veronica Tse finished second in 3:47.10. Sophomore Meghan Lam also had a second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:10.01 as did sophomore Paige VanTassell in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:24.20.

Coach Shively believes that swimming against strong teams like SIU will keep his team in the perfect mindset for the University Athletic Association Championship, which takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, from Feb. 15-18.

“We’ve had a tough season swimming against really fast swimmers,” Shively said. “But since we’ve seen what’s hard, I believe our team is ready for the UAA Championship, and I’m confident our team will be excellent.”