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Records broken at invite

| Senior Sports Editor
The Washington University swimming and diving team broke five school records and saw 15 swimmers provisionally or automatically qualify for nationals at the Wheaton Invitational during the weekend.

“I thought they did a great job. What you try to do in a meet like this is try to gauge the effectiveness of your training and their intensity throughout the first semester. You hope that you put it together well enough that at least you give them the opportunity to go out and swim fast, and I thought we did,” Head Coach Brad Shively said.

Junior Alex Beyer continued his strong season by breaking three school records and automatically qualifying for nationals in the 500-yard freestyle, 800-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard individual medley. Beyer broke his own record in the 500-free and IM, while his leading leg of the 800-free relay also broke a Wash. U. record.

Freshman Karina Stridh broke a school record and automatically qualified for the NCAAs with a time of 51.19 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, breaking the school record by .64 seconds. Stridh also broke the school record in 50-yard freestyle and qualified for NCAAs in the 50-free and the 100-yard backstroke.

“He [Shively] was giving us a little bit of a pep talk, and he was saying, ‘Don’t be surprised by greatness.’ I guess that kind of summed up how I felt about a lot of it because I really was surprised by how well I did, but most other people, especially the upperclassmen, know that this is an important meet and get really good times,” Stridh said.

Aside from Beyer and Stridh, all other NCAA-qualifying times were provisional.

On Friday, junior Brian Kushner, freshman Chris Valach, senior Kelly Kono and junior Jessie Lodewyk all provisionally qualified in the 500-freestyle, with Kushner and Lodewyk finishing second in their respective races.

Senior Kevin Leckey and sophomore David Chao took first and second in the 100-freestyle, and junior Dima Galkin and sophomore Michael Flanagan finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard butterfly respectively to also provisionally qualify for nationals, on Friday.

The women saw two other swimmers provisionally qualify for nationals, as sophomores Claire Henderson and Karin Underwood took first and second respectively in the 200-yard backstroke.

The Wash. U. men provisionally qualified in nine more events on Saturday. Leckey won the 50 and 200-freestyle, Chao came in second in both events and Beyer and senior Julian Beattie finished first and second in the 200-breaststroke, respectively. Junior Dan Arteaga and Flanagan also qualified in the 50-freestyle. The last individual qualifier for the men was Valach with a win in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

Three women individually qualified on Saturday, with Kono, Lodewyk and freshman Samantha Schulte taking first, second and third in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Kono also won the 200-yard freestyle, and Henderson took second in the 100-yard backstroke.

The Wash. U. relay teams also made their pushes for nationals this weekend, with teams making the provisional cut. Both the men and women provisionally qualified in the 800-free relay and 400-medly relay. The men and women also qualified in the 400-freestyle relay.

“Their competitive fire really showed. You just can’t prepare for that,” Shively said.

“[For] people who made A cuts, it was quite impressive this year. As far as B cuts go, we always aim to get a couple of relays and individuals, so it’s very good that we did get what we did,” Leckey, a co-captain, said. Leckey explained that in order to gain more control over nationals, the NCAA decreased the automatic qualifying times this season.

While team results at Wheaton were of secondary importance to the team after qualifying individuals for nationals, the Red and Green took second on both the men and women’s sides, losing only to Div. II Grand Valley State University in the seven-team field. Shively explained that since national qualifying times are very fast, the team uses this meet and the UAA Championships as qualifying meets since they have ample time to prepare.

The team will next be in action on Jan. 9 when Wash. U. hosts Lindenwood University in the first of four meets before UAAs. In these meets, the team will look to improve on race strategy and competition level before the UAA Championships on Feb. 11-14.

“We’re going to be in really tough training for the next two months. It’s great because you can still swim fast in season, and it can be very motivating if you do swim fast, but they’re all kind of benchmark meets as you move toward conferences to make sure that you are where you want to be,” Leckey said.

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