Swimming & diving teams end season on a high note

Competing at the highest stage of the season, the Washington University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams knew that it was their time see their hard work pay off and bring pride to the Red and Green. The teams seized the moment as the Bears ended the four-day NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships in Shenandoah, Texas, with seven school records and 12 All-American finishes.

Despite having only 11 qualifiers for the meet, the Bears did their best to score as many points as possible. The women finished in 12th place with 88 points, adding their ninth top-15 finish to the school record book while the men scored 44 points, finishing in 21st place. Compared to last year’s championships, the Bears had a huge turnaround as the women’s team improved by 13 places and the men’s by 20.

“It was so gratifying to see how our swimmers performed, and I’m just really proud of them,” head coach Brad Shively said. “I know how much time and the commitment that they’ve put into it. We knew that we had to execute and be strong and have faith in ourselves. I think we did all those things, and we represented Wash. U. to the best of our abilities.”

Sophomores Luke Dobben and Zane Turpin dominated the men’s 1,650-yard freestyle as Dobben dropped 11 seconds off of his career-best time, breaking Turpin’s school record by nearly six seconds and finishing in third with a time of 15:28.03 to earn his first All-American honor. Turpin finished behind Dobben, placing sixth with a time of 15:32.25. The two swimmers also competed in the men’s 1,000 free as Dobben lowered his school record by nearly six seconds, finishing with a time of 9:21.31, while Turpin recorded a time of 9:23.86.

“Both Luke and Zane were just really focused in the mile,” Shively said. “I told them to just concentrate on beating other people and not worry too much about the time. They were aggressive throughout the race and never took their foot off of the pedal. They were pushing it, and I’m glad to see the success that they had.”

In the men’s 100 butterfly, freshman Reed Dalton placed fourth with a time of 48.33 and earned his first-career All-American honors. Dalton broke the school record by 0.7 seconds in the preliminaries but broke the record again in the finals by 0.2 more seconds.

“Honestly, I was pretty nervous going into the race,” Dalton said. “When you look left and right, you realize that you’re swimming with the best of Division III. But in the end, the work that I put into in improving my stroke paid off. It was really all about out-touching the other guys, and luckily everything worked out.”

Freshman Kristalyn McAfee led the way on the women’s side. She had All-American finishes in all six of her events, contributed four school records and made top-15 finishes in all three of her individual events. In the women’s 200 Individual Medley, McAfee recorded a season-best time of 2:06.03 and finished in 10th place while junior Chi Pham came behind McAfee, finishing in 16th (2:07.75). McAfee also had a strong performance in the women’s 200 free. She placed fourth, clocking a career-best time of 1:49.61 and improving her school record.

“Kristalyn really chased some people down to get that fourth-place finish,” sophomore Sara Taege said. “She really went out and gave it her all, and I was impressed by her effort.”

In the women’s 400 free relay, McAfee teamed up with freshman Grace Counts, Taege and Pham and finished ninth—first in the consolation finals—with a time of 3:26.77, beating the school record by nearly 3.5 seconds.

“We went out there for the 400 and put in a good effort,” Taege said. “We luckily made it back to finals after prelims, and Coach Shively told us before the race to just go out and have fun with it. We had one goal, and that was to leave it all out in the pool. It was an insane event to be a part of, and we went times that we didn’t think were possible. The atmosphere was exciting, and it was just an awesome experience.”

In the women’s 800 free relay, Taege, McAfee and Counts teamed up with freshman Toireasa Rafferty-Millett and placed seventh as they recorded a time of 7:25.50, breaking the school record by more than six seconds. Other notable events included the women’s 200 free relay, in which freshman Katie Anderson, McAfee and juniors Jennifer Tartavull and Allison Siegel placed 13th with a time of 1:36.09 and the women’s 200 medley relay, in which Pham, Tartavull, Siegel and Anderson clocked a time of 1:46.74 to break the school record and finish 14th.

Although the swimming and diving season has come to an end, Coach Shively is looking forward to the next season with the goal of carrying over the success that the team has had this season.

“I think one of the things that I’ll take away from this season is that we have a very young team, but we’ve got a lot of potential,” Shively said. “Our young swimmers are already competing well at the highest level, and it’s amazing. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish next season.”