Navy Strengthens Leads at League Swim-Dive Meet
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy teams strengthened their respective holds on first place at the Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championship Thursday on the first full day of the meet being contested at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis. After combining to win all five events in an abbreviated session Wednesday night, the Mids totaled wins in four of the nine events Thursday.
The Navy women have now totaled 338.5 points through two days to lead second-place Lehigh by 135.5 points, and the Navy men have accrued 371.5 points to outdistance second-place Army by 108.5 points.
"It was a great night and we certainly set the tone for the rest of the meet," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "We had a very good morning, but the night was electric for us."
"Great first full day for the program, both Navy programs," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts. "I am extremely happy with what our team was able to do this morning. They came in focused, knew what they wanted to do, how they wanted to swim and perform, and they did just that. When that happens, as a coach you couldn't be more proud of them."
Key to the day was the performances put forth by the Mids during the morning session. The Navy women placed three swimmers in one of championship finals tonight, four in another and five in the remaining event. That was in addition to qualifying two into the championship final of the lone diving event held this evening. The most championship final qualifiers in the three individual swimming events this evening by another school was Lehigh with four, which was eight less than Navy's total.
"To score points at night," said Morrison, "you have to have a good morning. I think our team has been pretty good at handling that. Our second morning (Friday) is usually our weakest, but I think after tonight tomorrow will be a good session for us."
The Navy men's team placed four swimmers into each of the three championship finals this evening, which doubled the number of the team with the No. 2 overall tally (Army).
Earning league titles this evening for the Navy women's team were Lauren Barber (Jr., New Wilmington, Pa.) in the 200 individual medley and the 400 medley relay team of Kaitllyn O'Reilly (Sr., Farmington, Minn.), Barber, Delaney Walz (So., Mays Landing, N.J.) and Casey Lawson (Jr., Spring Lake Heights, N.J.).
Barber posted a time of 1:55.87 to win the event by nearly four seconds, break her own school, league and meet record (1:57.89) and record an NCAA B cut time (2:01.59). Placing right behind her in the final were her Navy teammates O'Reilly in second place and Jamie Miller (So., Rochester Hills, Mich.) in third.
"The IM came around and we went 1-2-3 in that," said Morrison. "We had five great swims in that race tonight."
Navy's relay team would then also break the school, meet, league and pool record (3:39.01) in winning the event by well over four seconds with its clocking of 3:38.45.
"It was great to finish the night with a win and a league record," said Morrison. "That really puts us in great shape for the weekend."
It was a tale of two different relay events at the championship for Lawson. On Wednesday, she entered the water as the third swimmer in the 800 freestyle relay and with several body lengths of water to make up. She would essentially tie for the lead after her leg of the race, with Barber cruising through her anchor leg to give the Mids the win. Tonight, she entered the pool with open water between her and the second-place team.
"I was third going in last night," said Lawson of the 800 freestyle. "I just wanted to swim my own race. Lauren told me beforehand to do just that. I tried to go out fast during the Army meet and it was not a good race. But I swam my own race and caught us up. Tonight, I just tried to keep the lead.
"I tried to keep it (the approach) the same (no matter her place when she entered). I have swam the 200 so many times in my life and have swam the 100 so many times, too. You swim it a little differently as you go out faster in the 100 than the 200 because it is half as long, but the mindset was the same."
On the men's side, Ryan Waters (Fr., Basking Ridge, N.J.) started things off for Navy by winning the 500 freestyle in a time of 4:19.61. That NCAA B cut time (4:24.99) gave him the victory by 1.7 seconds over teammate Billy Cadigan (Fr., Lutherville, Md.).
"Very happy for all four guys in the 500 free," said Roberts. "They all had considerable time drops today. They worked together all season long, so today and tonight was a reflection of how they have trained all year long. Ryan, to be able to come back after his morning swim which we weren't completely happy with that one. It wasn't for lack of effort, but it wasn't where we wanted to be at that point in the meet. He showed a lot of maturity for a freshman at this meet and to be able to do it right here on the side of the pool by his teammates was pretty special."
Navy's 400 medley relay team also capped the night with a great effort as the foursome of James Wilson (So., Ephrata, Pa.), Michael Velazquez (Jr., Henderson, Nev.), Zachary Piedt (Jr., Fort Mill, S.C.) and Joseph Jaime (Sr., San Antonio, Texas) recorded a time of 3:11.65 to win the final by 3.4 seconds.
"The relay," said Roberts, "everybody takes a lot of pride in relays because that is a reflection of the team. James has been swimming really well; Michael, awesome job going under 54 for the first time; in Zach and Joseph you have a really strong quartet out there. It was fun to watch. I know those guys wanted to be a little quicker, but those guys really laid it on the line in an exciting atmosphere."
Also this evening, Navy's Erin Jordan (Jr., Schnecksville, Pa.) placed third in the 500 free, while Ally Warnimont (Jr., Winston-Salem, N.C.) placed fourth in the 50 freestyle and Biz Graeff (Sr., Canton, Ohio) and Ali Kozlina (Fr., Cranberry Township, Pa) tied for sixth place in the sprint final. In diving, Maddie Keiser (So., Southlake, Texas) placed third and Meghan Gerdes (Fr., Spring, Texas) placed fourth in the one-meter competition.
"Really proud of the 500 freestylers," said Morrison. "They had a good start to the meet for us and threw a lot of points up on the board. Coming into the meet we had one 50 freestyler ranked among the top eight in the league, but we put three up there tonight. That was fantastic. And the divers did an unbelievable job tonight."
"They kept up the pace set by our men yesterday," said Navy diving coach Rich MacDonald on the team's women's divers today. "Meghan was really consistent all day. Maddie, she missed her first dive this morning and looked like she was out of making finals, but she clawed her way back into it all of the way to her last dive and snuck back into the eighth and final spot. Tonight, it was awesome to watch her come out at night and move from eighth all of the way into third. And as I said, Meghan's consistency today was really exciting because her best event is Saturday (three meter) and hopefully we will get to watch her Saturday night and see her show off a little bit more."
The two additional men's events saw Vince Everman (Jr., Philadelphia, Pa.) place second and Brayden Lauffer (Jr., Apex, N.C.) third in the 200 IM, with Mids tying for second --Jaime and Piedt -- and finishing in both fifth and sixth places in the 50 freestyle.
"The IM was probably the event of the day in terms of what it would take to come back tonight in the top eight," said Roberts. "That event, everybody in the pool knew it was going to be a tough job to go top eight, so we were happy to be able to get guys back in. I am really happy with our guys. They dropped a ton of time.
"The 50, we were certainly hoping for the 'W' tonight. Had the guys in there. Any one of them could have grabbed the win. When the separation is that close, it really comes down to minor things. They just got us a little bit. Really happy for the guys because even though they didn't drop time this morning they did at night."
The meet continues Friday and Saturday with trial heats in the morning (10 a.m.) and finals at night (6 p.m.).
"Our challenge for tomorrow is to come out like we did this morning," said Roberts. "We want to treat it like an entirely new day. That's something they will do without us talking about it, but that (morning session) by far will be the key to our success tomorrow."
1. 338.5 - Navy
2. 203 - Lehigh
3. 192.5 - Army
4. 140 - Boston
5. 120.5 - Bucknell
6. 119.5 - Loyola
7. 85 - Colgate
8. 75 - American
9. 68 - Holy Cross
10. 54 - Lafayette
1. 371.5 - Navy
2. 263 - Army
3. 153.5 - Boston
4. 148 - Bucknell
5. 111.5 - Loyola
6. 107.5 - Lehigh
7. 92 - Colgate
8. 66 - American
9. 61 - Lafayette
10. 50 - Holy Cross