Taege and the swimming team finish strong at NCAA championship

| Sports Reporter

From Wednesday through Saturday, the Washington University men’s and women’s swimming teams competed in the 2012 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championship, the final meet of the season. The Bears’ hard work and determination paid off as Wash. U. competed well in Indianapolis, Ind., bringing home several All-America honors and personal and season-best times.

Despite only having four swimmers qualify for the meet, the Bears still fought hard and swam valiantly as freshman Sara Taege, the only swimmer representing the women’s team, scored a total of 24 points and finished 25th overall, while the men scored 9.5 points, finishing 41st.

“We were not as big as we had hoped for,” head coach Brad Shively said. “We knew going in that three boys and one girl would limit our opportunities, but I thought they did awesome. Overall, it was a great meet. … I think we really bonded and supported each other as a team, and I’m proud of them.

On the first day, Taege competed well in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing first in her preliminary heat with a season-best time of 4:57.07. Taege had a seventh-place finish in the finals with a time of 4:59.81, clinching her first All-America honors.

“It was truly an honor and a blessing to be able to swim at this meet,” Taege said. “I’m grateful of the opportunity to compete at this level, and it was thrilling being able to swim against amazing swimmers.”

The men’s team also got off to a good start as junior Brendan Morin swam a season-best time in the 50 freestyle, finishing 33rd in 20.98 seconds. In the 500 freestyle, freshmen Zane Turpin and Luke Dobben finished 32nd and 34th, respectively.

Taege continued to perform well on the second day as she earned her second All-America honors in the 400 individual medley. In the preliminaries, Taege swam a personal-best time of 4:27.47 and lowered her time again in the finals, dropping another three seconds (4:24.66) to give her a seventh-place finish with the fastest freestyle splits of the event.

In the men’s 100 butterfly, Morin competed hard and made a 13th-place finish as he earned All-America honors. Morin recorded a time of 49.98 in the preliminaries, qualifying him for the consolation finals, which he finished with a time of 49.81. He also swam in the 100 butterfly, finishing 13th. Turpin competed in the 400 individual medley, and he finished second in his heat and 24th overall with a time of 4:08.59.

On day three, Taege had another great swim in the 200 butterfly as she placed 18th overall with a time of 2:07.23, only .02 seconds short of the school record. Dobben also made an 18th-place finish in the 200 butterfly, recording a time of 1:51.83.

“I thought the swim was OK,” Dobben said. “I would like to have dropped more time, and I know there were some things I would like to have done better at, but it was a good experience.”

Turpin helped the Bears end the meet on a strong note as he earned honorable mention All-America honors in the 1,650 freestyle. Turpin had an 11th-place finish, recording a time of 15:49.11. Dobben came behind Turpin as he finished 20th with 16:10.03. Morin set a career-best time in the 100 freestyle, finishing second in his heat with a time of 46.64.

Shively and the swimmers are already looking ahead to the next season. They plan to improve further in a few areas and perform even better.

“We were probably as good a team as we’ve had at Wash. U., but we can do more,” Shively said. “The truth is, we need more people at nationals. There are some really good building blocks right now, so we just need to grow from there. I can’t wait to see how much we improve next season.”

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