Swimming: Beyer repeats as 400-IM champion; men 10th, women 23rd at NCAAs
When senior co-captain Alex Beyer touched the wall after the last length of his 400 individual medley, he was alone at the finish for nearly two seconds. The win also placed him alone in the Washington University history books: Beyer is the only swimmer to repeat as a national champion.
The meet in Minneapolis was highlighted by multiple All-American swims and Beyer’s performance.
“It’s an honor to be considered one of the best swimmers in Wash. U. swimming history,” Beyer said.
In the weekend’s final portion of the event, he defeated second-place finisher Dan Thurston of Denison by more than two seconds. He had made this championship his goal at the start of the season.
“[From the] beginning of the year, I knew my main competition. I raced them last year also,” Beyer said. “My strategy for the race was to go out in the fly and try to hold together the back to be even with the top contenders…and then trust that I could hold on through the breaststroke and the freestyle.”
In addition to his success in the 400 IM, he placed fourth in the 200 breaststroke and 500 freestyle.
In the men’s competition, successful relay swims contributed 127 total points for the meet. On Wednesday, the Bears’ 200 medley relay team of Beyer and juniors Kartik Anjur, Michael Flanagan and David Chao claimed 13th in the race and posted Wash. U.’s first All-American time in the event since 2006.
With five swimmers competing, the men’s team had the smallest group of swimmers of any team in the top 10. By comparison, national champion Kenyon College sent a full squad of 21 swimmers.
“The race actually was really close for the 10th spot. [Three teams] were all dependent on the last relay,” Chao said. “We got ninth in that relay and beat the teams that were competing with us for the 10th spot. The way we stepped up on the relays contributed to how we got 10th.”
The 800 freestyle relay squad of Beyer, Anjur, Chao and freshman Mark Minowitz had the highest finish of any Wash. U. relay, with a third-place swim of 6:41.00.
“We were seeded 10th going into it, so we were all really excited about the outcome…I definitely thought the main reason we got third this year was because [Anjur], who went second,” Chao said. “He actually dropped around four seconds, which was ridiculous.”
Seeded in the slower heat during the finals, the Bears’ major competition swam in the following heat.
“It’s kind of hard when you have to swim before everyone else just because you don’t really have the benefit of the race…I’m pretty proud that we pulled off third place,” Chao said.
With 45 points, the women’s team had four All-American swims from senior captain Jessie Lodewyk and sophomore Karina Stridh. Lodewyk placed third in the 1,650 freestyle, the highest of any Wash. U. female swimmer for the meet.
Stridh earned top-eight finishes in both of her events. For the second year in a row, she placed seventh in the 50 freestyle while claiming fifth in the 100 backstroke.
“I was really excited because realistically, this time last month, I didn’t think I would make the cuts for nationals in the first place,” Stridh said. “To make it into the top eight in two of my events was a wonderful surprise.”
In addition to Stridh and Lodewyk’s swims, junior Karin Underwood competed in the preliminaries of the 50 freestyle, 200 IM and 200 backstroke. According to Stridh, many members of the team considered the meet a successful one, and team morale helped boost performance.
“Everyone is happy after all of their races, and that just gives you a boost for your own swims,” Stridh said.