New faces set school marks for women’s swimming

The women’s swimming team set four school records en route to a 10595 in the team’s season opener.

By Audrey Henkels

Starting off its 2008 campaign in style, women’s swimming began its year with a home win against Wheaton and four new school records.

In the 105–95 victory, two first-years, Tara Levens and Megan St. John, set individual records in the 200-yard backstroke (2:13.29), and 1000-yard freestyle (10:48.21), respectively. Levens, first-year Jacqueline Trudeau, second-year Ellie Elgamal, and third-year Cassie O’Neill broke the record in the 400-yard medley relay (4:06.09), while Levens also shattered the previous mark in the 100-yard backstroke (1:00.36).

Although the score indicates that the two teams in this dual meet were fairly evenly matched, head coach Jason Weber explained that after the first five events, he started entering the Maroons in exhibition, a commonly used sportsmanship practice in swimming. This means that even though Chicago may have had faster times than the Thunder women in several events, the Maroons were ineligible to score, and Wheaton received points for those races.

In one instance, the 400-yard freestyle relay team, comprised of first-years Levens, Laura Biery, and Casey Capozzoli and second-year Elgamal, nearly notched another Chicago record (3:43.62). Had this team been counted, they would have earned points for a second-place finish.

Alongside the school records, Chicago had several first-place performances in its victory. Topping the podium were Biery in the 200-yard IM (1:07.26), fourth-year Sarah Laws in the 100-yard freestyle (56.83), and Levens in the 200-yard backstroke (2:13.29). Chicago went one, two, and three in the 200-yard butterfly, with Elgamal leading the group (2:12.65), followed by first-years Ellen Stoehr (2:16.08) and Lelia Glass (2:19.64). Although they didn’t actually score for the Maroons, O’Neill had the fastest time in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:35.52), and Maryclare Griffin earned the most points in the one-meter diving (134.85).

Other strong events for the South Siders were the 200-yard freestyle, in which Trudeau and Capozzoli placed second (2:02.19) and third (2:03.58), the 1000-yard freestyle, with Glass coming in second and second-year Sarah Wynn fourth, and the 100-yard freestyle, in which Capozzoli placed second (57.07). First-year Kelsey Kubelick also placed third in the 200-yard IM (2:19.72).

Weber said he expected Levens to shatter the Maroon record in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, as she had broken them in practice. He did note that he was surprised when St. John broke the mark in the 1000-yard freestyle.

“I think it was a good meet to start off the season,” Weber said. “You always want to kick off with a win, and it’s always nice to start with four new records.”

The victory was especially sweet because last year the Maroon’s two losses against Wheaton contributed to all but one of their dropped dual meets on the season. Weber noted that while Wheaton is traditionally a top-15 school, they usually don’t compete well this early in the season.

As Chicago continues competition against IIT (0–1) and St. Mary’s (0–1) Friday, Weber plans to mix up the lineup and place his swimmers in different events.

“We’ve been improving over the last few years, and this year we may make a huge jump in our standing,” Weber said. “We have so many talented swimmers and so much depth—there are up to four girls in each event who have the potential to win. This means that I can really play around with my lineup.”

“In the next meet, we may very well see another girl break the same records [that we broke on Saturday],” he added.

Chicago’s Halloween meet begins at 6:00 pm in Myers-McLoraine pool.