Swimming prepares for key meet at McAuley

Photo courtesy of Danny Karnik

Following notable conference victories over Pitt and Florida State, Tech’s swimming and diving squad turned right back around during fall break to prepare for competition again conference rivals Miami and Notre Dame. The meet resulted in sophomore Caio Pumputis being recognized as ACC Swimmer of the Week amidst 13 first place finishes by himself and other teammates. Junior Emily Ilgenfritz was tabbed the female performer of the meet. Meanwhile, sophomore Christian Ferraro posted the fastest time in the country this season in the 200 butterfly among the NCAA. Although the season is just getting started, multiple members of the team have achieved the qualifications for the NCAA national competition in March. This Friday, the Jackets will race Miami, SCAD and FGCU at 3 p.m. before facing Notre Dame and Miami at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

The University of Miami competed at the SMU Classic this past weekend in Dallas, Texas and secured a fifth place finish among brutal competition. The meet opened with the 200-yard medley relay, where the women finished fifth in 1:43.70. In comparison, the Tech women placed third at their past meet in the same event with a time of 1:43.00. Although 0.70 seconds does not appear to be significant, in swimming it can comprise the difference between first and ninth place in some events. The Hurricanes do not have a men’s swim team but do have three divers that did not travel to Dallas with the women. Those three divers will have heavy competition at Tech against NCAA qualifier and senior Matt Casillas, along with the rest of the diving teams represented.

Highlights from the SMU Classic included freshman Maria Artigas Fernandez’s performance in the 500-yard freestyle (4:59.92) and freshman Zorry Mason in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:18.33). Senior Roxanne Yu tied for a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:59.11, while junior Manon Viguier took fourth in the 100-yard freestyle in 49.85 seconds. The meet ended with the 200-yard freestyle relay in which the Hurricanes captured fifth place yet again with a time of 1:34.07. The SMU Classic was a quick meet, featuring competition from teams with Olympic-caliber athletes, such as the University of Louisville, University of Southern California, and University of Virginia.

The SCAD Bees came away from the 2017-2018 season with a national championship under their belt on the women’s side, as well as 25 recognized CSCAA Scholar All-Americans, the largest number of athletes to achieve this in the NAIA last year. Last week, freshman Kaylen Hou was named Bee of the Week at SCAD, a title that is awarded to the athlete of each gender with the most notable performance of the week. The Bees competed against the Georgia Southern Eagles last Friday, losing 181-81. Hou set the 100-yard IM school record with a time of 1:01.62, but she will not find herself chasing a new best time this weekend, as the event is not typically performed at dual meets. The Bees will bring their best to the Tech pool, but there is a nearly uncontestable chance that the Jackets will win handily.

Another conference rival, Notre Dame, finished up their last meet with the women taking away wins over Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana, while the men’s team lost to the same teams. The women’s performances were highlighted by seven first-place finishes from junior Abbie Dolan (100 and 200-yard freestyles), sophomore Lindsay Stone (1000-yard freestyle), freshman Luciana Thomas (200-yard butterfly) and freshman Bayley Stewart (200-yard backstroke). The men were led by sophomore Zach Yeadon, who claimed first-place in both the 500 and 1000-yard freestyles. The Irish are quite a young team this year, but it will allow the team significant growth over the next few years. The times by those freshmen and sophomores leading the Irish are a bit faster than what the Jackets have seen this year thus far, so there will be good competition for first place in each race.

SCAD competitors find themselves up against another set of Eagles after their meet against Georgia Southern. The FGCU Eagles solely consist of a women’s team, of which two members swept the CCSA Swimmer and Diver of the Week awards during last week’s TYR Classic against FIU, TCU, George Washington, Grand Canyon, Army, FAU and Old Dominion. Senior Gracie Redding and sophomore Megan Wakefield captured these awards for the second and third times of their respective careers. The team won the TYR Classic, led by Redding, who participated in both the 400-yard medley relay and 200-yard medley relay along with her own individual events. Wakefield secured a score of 234.80 for second place on the 3-meter dive, while sophomore Petra Halmai scored for the Eagles in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:19.18.

The Jackets will continue to chase NCAA qualifying standards while aiming for first-place finishes and an overall victory during this two day whirlwind of competition that lies ahead; the opponents are strong, but the Jackets are prepared.