The Maroons’ swimming & diving team faced off against the rest of the UAA this past weekend. The 2018 University Athletic Association Championship took place at Emory, where the Maroons sought to overtake Emory, the reigning champion. Unfortunately, the Maroons would have to settle for fourth on both the men’s and women’s side, as Emory was able to become back-to-back UAA Champions.
Although the Maroons as a team were unable to finish in the top three, multiple UChicago individuals shined while picking up All-UAA honors. The second day of the event saw the men pick up six top-five finishes, while the women managed five top-eight finishes. On the men’s side, second-year Lance Culjat and first-year Keda Song finished second and third respectively in the 200-yard I.M. The women’s 200-yard freestyle relay team consisting of third-year Daria Wick, second-year Yifan Mao, and first-years Nicole Lin and Gillian Gagnard finished third, enough to capture all-conference honors.
The Maroons built upon this promising start on the third day. Second-year Reona Yamaguchi won the Maroons’ first UAA event, taking home the gold in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 55.02 seconds. Fourth-year diver Natalie DeMuro took second in the three-meter dive, following up on her third-place finish in the one-meter dive on the first day. More All-UAA nods were earned this day as well, as the men’s 800-meter freestyle team of Culjat, Song, third-year Keenan Novis, and second-year Taye Baldinazzo placed second. The highlight of the day, however, was the performance of first-year Nadia Redza. Redza broke the UChicago 400-meter I.M. record with a 4:26.41 time in her fourth-place performance. On breaking the school’s record, Redza was understandably jubilant. “For me, I was definitely happy to swim best times and swim to a new school record and the transition to swimming in college and swimming in short course yards has proven to be very successful for me,” she said.
The final day of the meet saw a nail-biting victory from Culjat in the 200-yard breaststroke by .04 seconds. UAA honors were also bestowed upon third-year Alexander Farrell (third in 100-yard freestyle), first-year Margaret Wolfson (third in 200-yard breaststroke), and Gagnard (third in 200-yard backstroke). Song won the UAA Men’s Rookie of the Year to round out the excitement of the weekend.
Although the Maroons were unable to place in the top three, there was still plenty to be excited about regarding the team’s performance. The UAAs were a definite success for the team, according to Redza. “Despite the many downs that have happened this season, the swim team definitely rose to the occasion at this year’s UAAs. Ending UAAs this year with two UAA champions and Rookie of the Year [awards] on the men’s side and a school record on the women’s side proves that as a team, we will always grow, improve, and rise in the face of adversity. Looking forward to NCAAs, we hope to place in the top 10 of all DIII schools on both the women’s and men’s side and based on what we have achieved this season and at UAAs, this is certainly a very achievable goal.”
The Maroons will return next weekend at the Midwest Invitational. Following the Invitational, the Maroons will head to Indianapolis to compete in the NCAA DIII Championship.