Second-place finish has team ready for nationals

This past weekend, the Lions’ swimming and diving teams competed in the Metropolitan Conference Championships where they finished in second place and couldn’t be prouder.

“It was so loud it was like a rock concert,” head coach Brian Bishop said. “It was a fantastic meet because there were so many more NCAA cuts and the team really stepped it up.”

Leading the women’s team was sophomore Ava Kiss who placed in six different events. In the 100-yard butterfly, Kiss took first with a time of 57.40 to claim an NCAA Division III A time while taking second in the 100-yard freestyle with a Division III B provisional time of 53.07.

Kiss was also an integral part of four relay teams that also placed in the competition. In the 200-yard medley relay, Kiss, freshman Emily Reichard, sophomore Lauren Pfiefer and senior Beth Hurley reached in a time of 1:49.38 to finish first with the Division III B provisional time. Reichard, Kiss and Hurley joined with junior Catherine Benigno in the 400-yard medley relay to receive second with a time of 4:01.37.

Kiss then partnered with senior tri-captains Karen Bocian and Erin Stutz and sophomore Kristen Udicious in the 800-yard freestyle relay to take second with a time of 7:57.01.

Then, in the 400-yard freestyle relay, Hurley, Stutz, Bocian and Kiss came away with third place in 3:39.19.

Stutz also added another highlight to her campaign as she took fourth in the 200-yard individual medley with a Division II B provisional time of 2:11.70 and third in the 400-yard individual medley with a Division III B provisional time of 4:38.37.

Reichard and Pfiefer wiped out their competition in the 100-yard breaststroke as they finished in the first and second place positions with times of 1:08.11 and 1:08.88, respectively.

Junior Lee Swanson added to her diving statistics as she picked up a first-place finish in the one-meter event with a score of 366.80 and a second-place finish in the three-meter dive with a score of 429.65.

On the men’s side, senior co-captain Steve Swenson led the way for the Lions as he placed first in four events. Two of Swenson’s first-place finishes were in the breaststroke. In the 100-yard, Swenson picked up first in a Division II A time of 56.58 while taking a 2:04.90 Division II A time in the 200-yard event. This is Swenson’s eighth time as an individual conference champion.

Swenson also joined in on the 400-yard medley relay with sophomores Kevin Oliver and Josh Forsman and freshman Jeff Glenn where they took first with a Division III B provisional time of 3:25.24. Swenson, Oliver and Forsman then united with junior Kyle King to take first in the 200-yard medley relay with a Division III A time of 1:32.65.

Sophomore Liam Gallagher also had quite a showing in the meets while placing third or better in seven different events. In perhaps what was the highlight of the match, Gallagher teamed with freshman

Tom Nawrot, Glenn and King in the 400-yard freestyle relay to capture first place in what would be the last event of the Conference Championships. The relay team finished in a Division III A time of 3:03.67 which would turn out to be a new school and conference record.

“It was the last event and the two teams were just battling it out,” Bishop said. “Even if we won we wouldn’t get first place but we were trying to make a statement.”

Gallagher also competed in the 200-yard freestyle relay with Glenn, King and senior Glenn Sudol to take first with a Division III B provisional time of 1:24.27. In individual events, Gallagher picked up second-place finishes in the 400-yard individual medley with a Division III provisional time of 4:10.33 and in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:55.01.

“I was really happy with my performance because I knew I had to go after my national cuts this weekend and I just fed off the energy of the team and everyone else’s swims to motivate myself,” Gallagher said.

In the 100-yard backstroke, Oliver took first with a Division II B provisional time of 52.10 while Nawrot finished close behind in second also with a Division II B provisional time of 52.30.

“This weekend was a huge stepping stone for us mentally,” Gallagher said. “Physically we know our foundation from all season will be there, but this weekend really pumped us up and we will be going into nationals really confident.”

The Lions are in a good position as they head to the NCAA Division III Championships on March 16-19 in Minneapolis, Minn.