November 20, 2007

Swimming ends fall on high note

Saturday’s dual meet marked the halfway mark for men’s and women’s swimming, and the Maroons are now sitting pretty. Both squads capped off the fall portion of their season with another impressive outing this weekend, setting the stage for an exciting UAA and NCAA push after their two-month break.

Clearing out the competition this weekend, the men’s and women’s squads both defeated Lake Forest and Grinnell at Ratner. The men’s side advanced to a perfect 4–0 in dual meets this season, as the women remain one step behind them at the 4–1 mark.

Seven swimmers for the women took top honors in their respective events, and two set new school standards as the Maroons cruised to a 220–53 win over Lake Forest and a 155–139 victory over Grinnell. First-year phenoms Ellie Elgamal and Katherine Leonard drowned the competition once again, leaving fresh stamps in the record books and combining to push the team’s total of broken records up to a staggering seven for the season. Elgamal won the 100-yard backstroke with a swift time of 1:02.08 while Leonard slapped the wall in 2:15.57 in the 200-yard backstroke.

The rookie pair also contributed in the 200-yard medley relay alongside fellow first-year Charlotte Richman and second-year Cassie O’Neill, helping Chicago to post a 1:53.12 and come away with the clear win. O’Neill also came up big for the squad when

she took first in the 100-yard breaststroke, clocking a 1:11.06.

Other strong individual performances included those from the veterans third-year Rachel Zarnke, who won the 200-yard butterfly in 2:17.15; and fourth-year Monica Buckley, who placed first in the three-meter diving event.

For both the men and women, big wins in the distance events helped lift the squads to their sweeps. In the 1,000-yard freestyle, first-year Catherine Cottle took gold after completing in 11:09.72 minutes, while first-years Jake Hanebutt and Phillip Bartels packed a one-touch in the same event for the men. Hanebutt led the way with a 10:11.74, with Bartels following at 10:16.23. In the 500-yard freestyle, first-year Sarah Wynn won at 5:23.04, while fourth-year Zachary Ergish and first-year James Schlabach teamed up to take the top two spots in the event for the men. Swimming a 4:56.18, Ergish claimed first, and rookie Schlabach trailed right behind him at 4:58.79.

Adding to Chicago’s dominating performance in long-distance outings were seven Maroons, who won their individual races to lock up the team’s 175–94 squashing of Lake Forest and 163–123 sinking of Grinnell.

Among them, third-year Shane Carlson took home two first-place finishes in the breaststroke events. In the 100-yard race, Carlson edged out teammates Ergish and first-year Ed Wagner, who finished second and third, to win in 1:01.30 minutes. Carlson was equally successful in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing at the front of the competition at 2:13.43.

Other strong performers included second-years Brian Young and Hiro Hayashi, who each took home first place in the 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle events, respectively. Fourth-year Chris Whaley led a 1–2 Chicago finish in the 200-yard butterfly, ahead of third-year Alex Stabell’s time of 2:01.43.

Keeping up the squad’s powerhouse performance, fourth-year Andrew Kent made his mark in the 200-yard freestyle event and helped anchor the 200-yard medley relay. Kent took first place in the freestyle race with a time of 1:47.82 and teamed up with Wagner, first-year Kieran Deveaux, and Stabell for the first-place relay effort of 1:40.79. Chicago relay teams rounded out the top three spots in that event, with the first through third finishes separated by less than two seconds.

Success has come to the swim teams in handfuls this season, with both squads improving steadily and tearing down old school records to set new ones. After an early 93­–112 loss to Wheaton in their season opener, the women’s team proceeded to overpower the competition with wins over Illinois Tech and St. Mary’s. They also maintained a first-place finish in the Maroon Invitational last weekend, defeating archrivals Wash U. The men started off their season with early wins over Wheaton and Illinois Tech and finished second last weekend at the Invitational, only 10 points behind Wash U. Far from a big surprise, the strong start to the 2007–2008 campaign has been a concentrated effort.

“Our goals for this year include improving on last season’s finish, as well as moving up in our conference,” head coach Jason Weber said. “On the women’s side, we have a lot of new talent, and on the men’s side, we’ve got great depth.”

After the solid jumpstart to improving last year’s league finishes, the Maroons now face a crucial winter break practice. To prepare for the rest of the season, both teams will head south to Fort Lauderdale following the end of finals week for an intense 12-day training trip. The trip will be critical for Chicago to maintain its momentum and continue in 2008 what it started in 2007. Coming back from the Sunshine State, the South Siders face Kalamazoo January 12 and then four other opponents before the UAA Championships in February.