Venue change doesn’t hold back Bears, with three weekend wins
Relocated to Principia College in Elsah, Ill., due to issues with the I.E. Millstone Pool here on campus, the 12th-ranked men’s team easily swept its two dual meets over Rhodes College and Principia College. The No. 10 women’s team defeated Principia while losing to Division I Southern Illinois University.
“We weren’t able to practice on Friday, so that’s never good before a swim meet,” junior Chi Pham said. “But considering that, as a team, our girls were really tough. We just kind of went for it. It’s our last meet before conference, so it was exciting.”
The meet was originally scheduled as a dual meet with Principia, to be hosted by Wash. U., until the pool was closed for maintenance on Friday afternoon. A light bulb exploded late Thursday night in the pool area, and its shards fell onto the deck and into the pool. The pool was drained and cleaned and is expected to be open again by noon Tuesday, according to Facilities Director Andrew Koch.
“We weren’t expecting to have the meet at a different location, and it was kind of a surprise,” sophomore Luke Dobben said. “I think we still kind of came together and made the best of the situation we were given.”
The men’s side won 14 of the 16 dual-meet events, including every non-diving event. The Bears were led by Dobben’s three victories in the 200-yard freestyle (1:46.00), 200 butterfly (1:58.56) and 100 butterfly (53.36). Dobben teamed up with sophomores Will Miller and Matt Nutter and freshman Kaisen Yao to take the 200 free relay in 1:28.21.
Dobben wasn’t too concerned about the end results and places in the meet.
“At this point, we’re really not terribly concerned with dual meet performance; we’re just kind of [preparing] ourselves for conference. I’m happy with the way I’m swimming, and hopefully I’ll be able to drop some serious time before conference,” he said.
Elsewhere on the men’s side, Nutter won two events on the day (100 backstroke in 55.11, 100 freestyle in 48.42) as did junior Brian Carpenter (100 breaststroke in 59.48 and 200 backstroke in 2:01.40) and sophomore Zane Turpin (1,000 freestyle in 10:13.03 and 500 freestyle in 4:54.86). Other winners included freshman Reed Dalton (22.54 in the 50 freestyle), junior Tyler Perez (2:15.60 in the 200 breaststroke) and freshman RJ Petrella (2:00.04 in the 200 individual medley).
The women’s team won three events in the meet. Pham was in on two, taking the 100 backstroke (58.95) and 200 IM (2:10.42). The other winner was freshman Sophie Gan, who won the 200 breaststroke in 2:26.31. Gan also took third place in the 100 breaststroke at 1:09.98. Freshman Grace Counts was third in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.42, and freshman Kristalyn McAfee was second in the 500 freestyle at 5:10.06.
One of the main goals of the meet was to do some pre-planning for the University Athletic Association championships, which will take place on Feb. 13-16 in Chicago.
“We kind of swam our main events that we expect to swim at conference,” Pham said. “Every meet is just kind of an opportunity to get your race strategy right, making sure that you are figuring out how to warm up for it.”
Now, with no more competition before UAA championships, the focus for the next two weeks shifts squarely toward being in top shape for the team’s biggest meet of the season.
“We all take a certain amount of rest for conference, but that’s all done individually,” Dobben said. “Sprinters rest longer than distance swimmers, but it all depends on what we’ve done in the past and what we each individually know works for us.”
Dobben added that second place for the men at conference championships, behind only fifth-ranked Emory University, is “a realistic goal of ours. It’s kind of what we’ve been striving for.”
Pham, meanwhile, noted that the women’s team was looking to improve on its fifth-place finish last season.
“There’s no expectation besides going as fast as we can and showing everyone what Wash. U. is about,” Pham said. “We didn’t finish so hot last year, so I guess the goal of this year is to show everyone that that’s not Wash. U.
“I think our team is probably stronger this year than it’s been in a very long time, and we’re excited to do some damage at conference.”