Men finish second, women come in fifth at swimming and diving UAAs
The Washington University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams kicked off its postseason this weekend, traveling to Chicago for the University Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championships. The men matched their conference result from last year, finishing second, while the women dropped three spots, to fifth place overall.
Held over the course of four days, from Wednesday to Saturday, the University Athletic Association (UAA) meet this year was a high-pressure affair, with five of the top 11 teams for both men and women in Division III competing in the conference. The Wash. U. men entered the weekend No. 7 in the nation, behind New York University at number six and Emory University, the second-ranked team in the nation. The No. 6 women, meanwhile, had to contend with No. 5 NYU and No. 1 Emory.
“A meet like this does a lot of things,” head coach Brad Shively said. “[It] illuminates a lot of your strengths and your weaknesses. If you’re not good at something, the level of competition here will certainly show you.”
The championships got off to a promising start in men’s diving on Wednesday, as junior Ryan Nathenson posted a career-best 407.90 in the one-meter dive, good enough for a sixth-place finish.
The swimming began Thursday, and the Bears posted several strong times. The men’s 400-meter medley relay team of senior Michael Lagieski, junior Ross Brown, sophomore Andrew Pek and freshman Peyton Wilson swam a season-best time of 3:18.15 for a second-place finish. Their time was also under the mark that qualified for the 2016 NCAA Championships, a promising sign for the quartet’s chance of selection to this year’s nationals. Lagieski also swam for a NCAA B-Cut and second place in the 200-yard individual medley, and Brown did the same in the 50-yard freestyle.
The women were, for the most part, held off the podium Thursday, but they posted several 2016 qualifying times. These came from junior Niamh O’Grady in the 200-yard individual medley, the 400-yard medley relay team of O’Grady, junior Nicole Zanolli, freshman Stephanie Li and senior Lauren Carlos, and the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Carlos, freshman Mollie Seidner, senior MariMac Collins and sophomore Lauren Sapp. Zanolli also finished third in the 500-yard freestyle, and on the diving side, senior Emily Ramos scored a career-best 431.95 in the three-meter dive to finish seventh.
Friday proved to be a big day for the men’s team. Pek and sophomore Brandon Lum finished first and second, respectively, in the 100-yard freestyle. Pek’s time of 48.74 was a career-best and the fourth-best time in Division III this season. In the 100-yard backstroke, Wilson broke his own school record, finishing second with a time of 49.50. Lagieski also swam his way onto the podium on Friday, finishing third in the 200-yard backstroke. The Bears got two more top-three finishes on the day, from sophomore Jordan Wheeler in the 400-yard individual medley and the same team from Thursday’s 400-yard medley, which continued its success in the 200-yard medley relay.
The women’s team only saw one podium finish on Friday, with the 800-yard freestyle relay of Zanolli, Collins, Sapp and O’Grady finishing third. The Bears, however, did rack up a few 2016 qualifying times outside of that, including O’Grady in the 100 freestyle and the 200 medley relay of Zanolli, O’Grady, Carlos and Collins.
Shively highlighted the Bears performance in the relays as key and said they were “swims that really stood out, and swims that we really needed.”
The men’s team ended the championships on a high note, taking home three first-place finishes on the final day. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Pek, Brown, freshman Chase Van Patten and senior Justin Morrell took home the gold a 2:59.93. The quartet’s time also broke the UAA record. Peyton Wilson continued to build freshman pedigree, once again breaking one of his own school records, and taking home first with a time of 1:47.62 in the 200-yard backstroke. Later that day, Lum finished first the 200-yard butterfly. The Bears also got qualifying times from Andrew Ellison, who finished third in the 1650-yard freestyle, and Lagieski who finished fourth in the 200 breaststroke.
The women’s team added two more third place finishes before the weekend drew to a close. Zanolli picked up another 2016 qualifying time, finishing third in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:01.76. Zanolli also helped the 400 freestyle relay into third place, along with Collins, Sapp and Carlos.
Shively said he was pleased with how his team performed, especially considering the grueling nature of an extended meet like the UAA championships.
“Meets like that are tough,” Sively said. “You’re competing for three days, two or more sessions a day. I’m pleased with the fact that some of our best races came after five or six sessions.”
Overall, the men’s team totaled 1.516.5 points, over one hundred points back from Emory in first, but comfortably ahead of New York University, which finished in third with 1,269 points. The women’s team finished fifth with 1,073 points, just 18 points behind Carnegie Mellon in fourth. Over the course of the conference meet, the two teams combined for 34 NCAA B-cut times.
The Bears wrap up their preparations for the NCAA championships next week when they travel back to Chicago for the Midwest Invite. After that, the swimming and diving teams will gear up for nationals, which begin March 15 in Shenandoah, Texas.