Record day for Elgamal, but talented Calvin outstrips Chicago

It was Ellie Elgamal’s week, as the second-year posted two NCAA provisional-qualifying times and was the NCAA Division III swimmer of the week, but the Chicago Invitational turned out to be Calvin’s meet.

By Audrey Henkels

With one new school record and two NCAA Division III provisional-qualifying times, the Maroons finished second to Calvin College in the seven-team Chicago Invitational on Friday and Saturday.

The battle for points was primarily between the Knights and the Maroons, as Calvin’s 1251.83 points topped Chicago’s 1011.33; Lawrence University came in third with 402 points.

Second-year Ellie Elgamal earned NCAA Division III provisional-qualifying times in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly, winning both events with respective times of 58.01 and 2:08.47. She beat her previous season’s best in the 100-yard fly, 58:06, which was also a national provisional-qualifying time.

Elgamal’s performances in these two events move her into ninth and twelfth place in the nation for the 100- and 200-yard butterfly, respectively.

“I anticipate her time coming down a lot in the 200,” head coach Jason Weber said. “The last 50 yards were really tough for her to come home, so when she gets into even better shape, she should be able to go a lot faster.”

These recent times contributed to’s selection of Elgamal as the NCAA Division III women’s swimmer of the week. Last week, she was named UAA athlete of the week after her stellar performances at Kalamazoo.

At the Chicago Invitational, Elgamal joined with first-years Tara Levens and Ellen Stoehr and fourth-year Sarah Laws to finish second in the 200-yard freestyle relay and notch a record for Chicago with a time of 1:41.17.

“They broke the record by a big margin—about a second,” said Weber. “Tara’s end leg was really fast.”

Individually, Levens came close to breaking another record. She finished the 100-yard freestyle in 54.77, a mere seven-tenths of a second off Chicago’s record.

Levens also put up strong performances in the 200-yard IM, shaving over three seconds off her personal best, and in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing second behind Elgamal.

The 400-yard relay team, composed of Levens, Elgamal, and first-years Laura Biery and Jacqueline Trudeau, notched another win for the Maroons with a time of 4:02.02.

First-year Amanda Kim led the way in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:02.38, adding another needed victory to the South Siders’ score.

As the Maroons scrambled for points, the Chicago diving squad stepped up. Third-year Carla Penicka, recently back from a quarter abroad, put together an 11-dive sequence and earned a personal best in the three-meter diving event. First-year Maryclare Griffin also successfully competed in this event and contributed to the Maroons’ overall point tally.

Like the swimmers, Chicago’s divers faced intense competition. Calvin features a lineup of five talented divers, including fourth-year Erica Deur, a former national champion, who set new pool records in both the three- and one-meter diving events.

The South Siders struggled to compensate for the absence of four injured team members but worked hard to overcome this challenge.

“I was very pleased with the girls’ performances,” said Weber. “I thought they were more indicative of how they’ve trained and what their ability level is, versus at Kalamazoo, where they weren’t prepared and focused.

“This is more what I expect to see this weekend.”

As the upcoming meet is the team’s last home meet of the season, it is deemed “Senior Night,” and Weber will take a moment at the beginning to honor each of the four seniors.

“Everyone gets pretty pumped up for Senior Night,” said Weber, who predicts that there will be a large turnout, as the meet is typically attended by friends, parents, and other family members.

Weber said that the extra turnout will be helpful as the Maroons face Division-I foe UW–Milwaukee for the first time.

“It’s going to be really tough for us to win,” said Weber. “All of the events should be really close.”

While it is perhaps unfortunate that they are competing against such a talented team for their senior’s last home meet, it will be a good opportunity for the Maroons to face tougher competition as the squad readies itself for the UAAs February 11–14.

The Maroons’ meeting with Milwaukee will take place Friday, January 23, at 5 p.m. at the Myers-McLoraine Pool.