Protecting their house on Saturday, the Maroons ensured that 11 swimming and diving teams all left Ratner empty-handed.
Despite an onslaught of competitors, both the men’s and women’s teams took home this year’s title at the Chicago Invite. The 24th-ranked men’s team had no trouble cleaning up in the 10-team field, ending with nearly double the score of second-place Illinois Tech. The rest of the pack’s scores paled in comparison to the massive total put up by the Maroons.
Not to be outdone, the women also registered a strong performance in the Myers-McLoraine Pool. They squashed an 11-team field and squeezed out UW–Oshkosh in a close race for first place.
“As a whole, I feel the team performed very well. It’s hard to say how well just because the level of competition and intensity at this meet was much lower than some of the other competitions we’ve had this year. Everyone raced hard, some posting season-best times, and we won the invite, so I would have to say this past weekend can be viewed as a success,” head coach Jason Weber said.
The meet was marked by big individual efforts and record-setting performances by Chicago’s finest.
In the men’s lane, third-year Shane Carlson acted as a workhorse over the weekend. He captured first place in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:00.74), 200-yard breaststroke (2:21.52), and 400-yard individual medley (4:11.61). As if that weren’t enough, he teamed up with his fellow Maroons to snatch the top spots in the relays for 200-yard freestyle, the 400-yard medley, and the 800-yard freestyle. Carlson’s epic performance won him the honor of UAA Athlete of the Week.
Adding to the cause was first year Sebastien Davis-VanGelder, who topped the podium in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke (55.92, 1:59.90). On the diving front, fourth-year Paul Accardi broke school records in the one-meter and three-meter diving competitions (227.75, 234.40).
For women’s swimming and diving, the freshmen were fabulous. Leading the way were first-years Ellie Elgamal and Charlotte Richman. Winning the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:10.74 and then setting a school record in the 100-yard backstroke during the first leg of the 400-yard medley relay (1:01.61), Elgamal was honored as UAA Athlete of the Week for her performance. Richman was also a heavy contributor, placing first in the 100-yard backstroke (1:03.74) and 100-yard butterfly (1:02.33) to add to the Maroons’ tally.
“Sometimes you feel great, and other times you have to swim tired, but either way you just have to focus on the race and give your best effort. I think everyone was really exhausted from training, myself included, but we all rose to the challenge and put up some great times this weekend,” Elgamal said.
Although a week of victories bolstered already strong seasons for both the men’s and women’s squads, a tough road lies ahead. Next weekend the men host 10th-ranked Carthage and 25th-ranked Wheaton.
“The guys had no problems beating Wheaton earlier this season, but the Wheaton guys are swimming much better now and I’m sure they want some revenge. The Carthage guys are an extremely strong and deep squad. They match up very well to us in practically every event, so this one will come down to the wire. Carthage
will probably be the toughest test for our guys all year,” Weber said.
The women face a strong challenge as well, from 23rd ranked Carthage and eighth-ranked Wheaton—whom the Maroons lost to in a tight season opener.
“In preparation, I’m just keeping the same routine, getting a lot of rest and making sure all of my work gets done. Our captains, Ellie McNeil and Blake Langdon, are great leaders who are getting us excited for our next meet,” said Elgamal.
The meets are a golden opportunity for the Chicago squads to make some big noise on the national scene, and perhaps capture a spot in the NCAA tournament fields.
“Trust me, both teams want to beat Carthage and Wheaton,” Weber said.
The men and women will both start competition on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Myers-McLoraine Pool in the Ratner Athletic Center.