The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams had a combined 12 players register NCAA qualifying marks and six first-place finishes on Saturday afternoon, but fell short against Division I Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in the final dual meet of the season.
“Swimming against Georgia Tech is always a great opportunity for our team to get up and race,” senior swimmer Justin Beegle said. “They are a good Division 1 program, but by no means one that we can’t compete with.”
The men lost 197-77, and the women walked out with a short 167-130 decision.
“We have been working very hard both in the pool and in the weight room, and to be giving the Tech swimmers a run for their money was a testament to that work,” Beegle said.
On the women’s side, junior swimmer Kylie McKenzie recorded two first-place finishes and impressed everyone with a provisional qualifying time of 2:23.98 in the 200-yard breaststroke, placing her far above her competitors.
“We are now officially in the full swing of championship season as we begin to prepare for UAAs and the MW invitational in a few weeks,” McKenzie said. “It will be great to see all of our hard work start to pay off as we look to defend our 15th consecutive UAA Conference title and our fourth consecutive NCAA title. This time of year is always exciting as we really rally around each other to swim fast and to perform well as a team.”
Freshman back stroker and IM swimmer Ellie Thompson had a first-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:05.08. Senior swimmer Mia Michalak kept up the heat with a first-place time of 2:08.33 in the 200-yard individual medley.
“The focus now is to build on the work we have been doing all season and get ready for UAAs and NCAAs,” Michalak said. “Since it was mine and my fellow seniors’ last dual meet ever, I was hoping to get the team to win. Regardless, everyone raced hard and put up really solid unrested times.”
Contributing to ‘B’ cut times on Saturday were senior fly and free stroke swimmer Leslie Hackler coming in third in the 200-yard butterfly (2:07.11), and a relay team consisting of sophomore Nancy Larson, junior Jen Pak and seniors Anna Dobben and Renee Rosenkranz, in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:30.79, second place).
“We were very strong towards the end of the meet and were able to keep the energy up and race until the very end,” Larson said. “That being said, we could have attacked the front half of the meet a little better. It took a few races to hit our stride.”
Junior divers Sarah Greene and Annabel Enquist finished the day off with third and fourth place finishes in the one-meter dive, respectively. Both surpassed the NCAA qualification scores.
On the men’s side, senior co-captain Miller Douglas finished in second place in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:51.58.
Sophomore Hayden Baker contributed a pair of ‘B’ cut performances in the butterfly events. He finished in third place in both the 100-yard butterfly (50.36 seconds) and the 200-yard butterfly (1:52.74).
“I’m really proud to have swum with these guys this season,” Baker said. “We have worked hard to get to where we are, and I can’t wait to see what we do in Chicago and Houston.”
Senior breast and IM swimmer Peter O’Brien set a precedent for the team with a first-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley (1:53.69). Beegle finished third with a provisional qualifying time of 2:06.46 in the 200-yard breaststroke.
“One of the many great things about our team is that we’re typically very aggressive dual meet swimmers, even when facing teams known to be faster than us, such as Georgia Tech,” O’Brien said.
Freshman Matt Wu proved O’Brien’s theory as he set the fastest record time in the 1,000-yard freestyle event by an Eagle in this season. He finished third with a time of 9:59.32.
“We are all really excited to cash in on all of the hard work we have put in,” Wu said. “The captains as well as the coaches have been great leaders to the underclassmen.”
The next big step for the Eagles will be the championship season, which will begin with the UAA Championships in Chicago taking place Feb. 13 through the 16. There, both the Emory men and women will work towards their 15th consecutive conference titles.
— By Nicola Braginsky