If one meet could epitomize the success of mens swimming so far this season, this weekends showdown was it.
Chicago emerged with a resounding victory at the third annual Maroon Invitational, held at the Myers-McLoraine Pool Friday and Saturday. The team took in 848.5 points at the 20-event meet, easily outdistancing Luther Colleges 752 points for the win.
Teams from eight Division III schools participated in the meet, which included strong opponents like the second-place Norse and Wash U (3rd, 425.5 points). The Maroons won five individual events and three relays over the course of the two-day invitational. The first day saw tough competition against Luther, while Wash U was the main contender on Saturday.
Young talent continued to guide the team to success, spearheading this weekends win. First-year Shane Carlson made the leap from dominating to record-breaking, capturing the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle swims in times of 4:49.32 and 16:28.89. His first-place mark in the 1650-yard and his second-place 400-yard IM finish (4:15.92) set new program records. Carlson has excelled since his arrival at Chicago, performing brilliantly at almost every meet this season.
[The coaching staff has] helped me tremendously with my strokes and turns, Carlson said. In a 1,650-yard race, you have 65 flip turns, so I think their advice on improving my turns played an important role in helping me swim a personal best.
Shane is having a great season so far, and the indicators are the he has much more up his sleeve, head coach George Villarreal said.
Three other Maroons won individual races, with third-year Pat Seastedt capturing the 100-yard breaststroke (1:01.85), second-year Jason Azares taking the 200-yard fly (1:58.52), and classmate Zachary Ergish reeling in the 200-yard IM (2:05.49).
The Maroons also posted a number of top finishes in the relay swims. A highly talented group of consistently strong swimmers, including Carlson, Seastedt, Ergish, third-year James Viccaro, and second-year Andrew Kent, notched wins in the 200- and 800-yard freestyle and the 400-yard medley relays,
Many of the events at the invite featured preliminary swims in the morning and finals in the evening, a format similar to this Februarys UAA Championship meet in Atlanta. The Maroons competed in their best strokes in order to sharpen their skills.
Since this is an early dress-rehearsal for UAAs, it was important to give the swimmers the opportunity to swim their best events at big meets, Villarreal said. I think that everyone responded well to swimming the events a second time on Saturday evening, and were able to gain the confidence knowing that they could swim fast even while tired from the morning swims,
With a hard meet against Grinnell coming up next weekend at Ratner, the Maroons are optimistic about their year thus far.
The team as a whole is headed in a good direction. They gained confidence this weekend swimming toe-to-toe with Wash and Luther, coming off a really hard week of training. This bodes well for the rest of the season, Villarreal said.
The Maroons motivation and their support for one another have been key to their ongoing success this year.
In our time in the water as a team, our encouragement toward each other has strengthened our friendship and respect for one another, Carlson said.