Swimming teams capture runner-up finishes at UAA Championships
In the final meet before nationals, the Washington University men’s and women’s swimming teams both came away with runner-up finishes at the University Athletic Championships from Wednesday through Saturday in Rochester, N.Y.
The men’s team clocked in with a total of 1,444 points, just behind Emory University’s 1,595 points. Meanwhile, the women’s team rallied to secure a third consecutive runner-up finish with 1,329.5 points, well behind Emory (2,015) but just ahead of the University of Chicago (1,319), who led by nearly 50 points coming into the final day.
“On the women’s side, I felt like we put ourselves into a position to be able to [finish second] in the morning,” head coach Brad Shively said. “I thought top to bottom it was as much a team effort as you could possibly come up with. You look at how close that race ends up being, and it doesn’t take much for you to fall into third place, so really every point that we were able to get from everybody there put us in the position to get second place.”
In total, the Bears combined for nine event titles—seven by the men’s team—and 47 B-cut times, which can allow the Bears to qualify more swimmers for the Division III championship meet in March.
With four conference titles, junior Michael Lagieski spearheaded the men’s second-place effort. Individually, Lagieski clocked B-cut winning times of 54.64 and 2:01.68 in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, respectively. In the 400-meter-medley relay, Lagieski teamed up with freshman Kevin Van Cleave, sophomore Ross Brown and senior Reed Dalton to capture the UAA title with a B-cut time of 3:16.86. The same four swimmers joined forces to win the 200-medley relay in a B-cut time of 1:30.23.
Freshman Brandon Lum was chosen as the UAA Men’s Swimming Rookie of the Year after notching three top-six finishes, highlighted by a conference title in the 200 butterfly with a UAA-record time of 1:48.94. According to Lagieski, the award is representative of a strong freshman class in general.
“[Lum] was able to do what we all knew he could do,” Lagieski said. “We had another freshman [Van Cleave] who was a part of both medley relays and had an astounding meet as well, so I think that the award could have gone to either of them. It’s a great rookie class overall.”
For the first time since the 2002-2003 season, Shively was named as UAA Men’s Swimming Coaching Staff of the Year along with assistant coach Nicole Knaupp, but he deflected credit to his student-athletes.
“We knew that they were out there swimming hard and swimming tough the entire time, so I’m flattered by it because there are some awesome coaches and some really fantastic programs there,” Shively said. “I would say in a heartbeat I would take second place over being coach of the year. Second place was a really big deal for us.”
For the women’s team, senior Amanda Stadermann claimed her first individual UAA title after clocking a B-cut time of 2:01.54. Sophomore Niamh O’Grady swam to a season-best time of 2:04.14 to secure first place in the 200 fly. Although she didn’t win an event, sophomore Nicole Zanolli broke two school records individually in the 500 free and 100 backstroke, respectively, and she was a part of two relays that also shattered school records in the 200-medley and 400-medley.
After competing in the UAA Championships, the Bears have a month-long break until the Division III NCAA Championships in Greensboro, N.C., but both teams are well-equipped to train effectively until nationals.
“One of the nice things about being in the UAA is that it is national-level competition. We know that in every race we’re going to be seeing folks in those races that we’re going to see at the NCAA Championships as well,” Shively said. “The UAA ends up being a very good preparation for NCAAs, but there’s going to be a lot of physical, mental and team preparations to make sure that we are at our best before going to North Carolina.”