The women’s swim team won by a large margin this Saturday, defeating Wash U in St. Louis while the men’s team fell to the Bears 147-87. The women’s team has now won three of its first four meets this season, while the men are 2-2 in their initial competition.
The women took the top three medals in three events. In 1- and 3-meter diving, first, second, and third place went to second-year Rebecca Schmidt, first-year Ashley Grimes, and first-year Maryclare Griffin, respectively. Similarly, first-year Wini Lau, second-year Tatum Stewart, and second-year Julie Pendleton swept the podium in the 200-yard butterfly.
In addition, there were four other first-place finishes for the women. Third-year Tara Levens and first-year Vivian Yuen won the 200-yard freestyle and backstroke, respectively. Second-year Andrea McPike, along with Levens, Lau, and first-year Karen Chen took the gold in the 40-yard medley relay, and the same team, replacing Chen with second-year Kate Taylor, won the 400-yard freestyle relay.
While the men didn’t emerge from the water victorious, fourth-year Ed Wagner and second-year Wade Gong won the 200-yard breaststroke and backstroke, respectively. First-place in the 400-yard freestyle relay went to fourth-year James Schlabach, third-year Nick Santoro, second-year Kevin Yang, and first-year Eric Hallman.
Despite these individual victories, the men’s team did not perform as well overall as hoped. “A lot of our swimmers couldn’t compete for one reason or another, be it injury or illness, or a simple inability to commit a full 16-hour Saturday to a swim meet,” said Wagner. Nevertheless, he continued, “Everyone who was able to make the trip swam impressively, but it is difficult to compete at the level required to beat a team like Wash U when 25-percent of the team is unable to contribute.”
A shortage of athletes may also explain why the women’s team fared so well. “It was easy to sweep the podium [in the diving events] because Wash U only had one experienced female diver who only competed in one of the events,”said Schmidt. This advantage proved critical to the win, allowing the Maroons to secure over 30 points across the events.
However, the final team scores mask some of the men’s strengths and some of the women’s weaknesses.
“I don’t think the final dual meet score reflected the intensity of the meet,” said Gong. However, he conceded that the men’s team did not “approach the meet at the beginning with a competitive mind set.”
He was quick to point out the team’s ability to adapt and galvanize itself: “Our captains realized [we were falling behind] and held a meeting to motivate us and to bring more intensity to the second half of the meet.”
Levens pointed out that the women’s team was not irreproachable this Saturday. As she explained: “WashU had 6 individual event winners, and we only had 3.” The Maroons may have won by 27 points, “but in swimming, that can turn around pretty quick.”
The swimming and diving season is not yet half over, and as more important meets approach, excitement and expectations increase. According to Wagner, the men “will do some hard training, then rest a bit for our mid-season invitational, where we hope to post some times that will get the attention of the rest of the UAA.” Speaking for the women, Levins said, “Times keep dropping and scores keep rising! We are very excited about our prospects for this season.”
Cheer the Maroons on this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Myers-McLoraine Pool, where they will compete in the Phoenix Fall Classic.