In their final appearance at home, Tech’s swim and dive team sent their eleven graduating seniors out on a high note in front of a home audience in McAuley Aquatic Center.
Swimming went up against Carson Newman University on Friday and Gardner-Webb University on Saturday. On Friday, the men’s team won 183-77 with particular dominance in the men’s 1000m, 200m back, 100m breast and 500m freestyle. Sophomore Mert Kilavuz and freshman Charles Perks finished top two in both 1000m and 500m freestyle. The women’s team swept the top three in the 100m and 200m breast, as well as the 200m fly and 50m free.
Tech also represented at the top of the dive boards — senior Carmen Woodruff finished fifth in the 1 meter and junior Anna Bradescu held fourth in both the 1m and 3m dives. Especially against ACC rivals Miami and Florida State, it was a productive precursor to Saturday’s encore. Before Saturday’s events, the outgoing seniors were recognized for their contributions to the program poolside. Woodruff represented the dive team while the swim team bid farewell to McKenzie Campbell, Abby Cohen, Atticus Cohen, Kyrsten Davis, Imane El Barodi, Daniel Kertesz, Ruben Lechuga, Duda Seifer, Jonathan Shaheen and Brooke Switzer.
Even though both teams said goodbye to valued members, they put together great performances to send them off in style. Some of these performances qualified for the Zone meets, which represent the next step in the Jackets’ swim and dive postseason.
Woodruff repeated her top-five finish from Friday in the platform dive, while Bradescu qualified for the Zone B diving meet with a first-place score of 275 in the same event. Freshman Elijah Klier also qualified for Zones for the men’s team.
For the swim team, nothing changed from Friday’s results. Kilavuz went back-to-back with his second win in the 1000m free, closely followed by freshman Sean Santos in second and junior Caleb Blischke in third.
200m free belonged to both the women and men, with Jackets occupying the top three in both events. Freshman Deniz Ertan and junior Rei Kuramoto narrowly finished first and second respectively, separated by 1.2 seconds in the women’s event. The women’s team also cleaned up in the 50 and 100 free. Sophomore Zora Ripková captured third place in the 50m free, but dominated in the 100m to claim first place. The breaststroke performances echoed the high-caliber performances in freestyle.
Barodi capped off her last senior home meet with a second-place finish in the 100m breast, only falling behind sophomore teammate Clarissa Sabin by 0.13 seconds.
Saturday’s events provided some time for members of the swim team to reflect on their season. For junior Claudia Butterfield, the high point of the season was the meet against UGA, where the Jackets were able to race and compete with a highly-ranked opponent despite it being early in the season.
“My goal was to help build a culture where people are able to have fun, succeed and push each other and I think we were able to do that,” said Butterfield, who won the 200 yard breast.
She continued that “everyone’s being 100% and it’s been fun to see the freshman grow and sophomores step into leadership roles.”
It’s also been a season of growth, as sophomore David Gapinski can attest to. Going up against tough SEC swimmers at the same Georgia Invitational, he anchored the 200m freestyle leg and didn’t flinch or back down from the challenge it posed in the events.
“Even though I was a risk to be put on, I was able to show up for my team,” Gapinski said.
He showed up again on Saturday in the 50 yard freestyle with a first-place finish.
Both swimmers are excited for the championship season coming up, but they know culture and grit are going to be essential if a talented Jackets swim and dive squad hope to capitalize on their potential and grab some hardware. The ACC Championships start Feb. 14 and only time will tell if the Jackets are able to dominate in the same manner they were able to last weekend.