Lions swim with the big fish

The men’s and women’s swim teams raced against some of the best programs in the region at the Frank Elms Super Splash invitational Nov. 19-21. As the only Division III team in the invitational, the Lions swam against all Division I schools such as the University of Pittsburgh, LaSalle University, the University of Delaware and many others.

“We get very competitive at invitationals,” junior Jesse Taylor said. “Because there are so many teams, there are tons of fast swimmers. Also, each event has multiple heats, so when you’re swimming your event, you’ve been matched against other swimmers that are about your skill level. All the races are close; it can get pretty intense.”

On the women’s side, freshman Ashley Conroy broke two school records back-to-back. On Friday, she became the school’s fastest swimmer in the 100-yard backstroke as part of the 400 medley by finishing the opening leg in 58.74. The next day Conroy broke the record in the 200 yard backstroke in 2:08.34. The previous time in this event was set last year by sophomore Kristyn Wikoff.

While it is still early in the season, senior Margaret Molloy, junior Laura Pierce and sophomore Kayleigh Shangle all posted NCAA provisional times, putting them one step closer to qualifying for the national tournament at the end of the season. Pierce advanced to the 100-yard butterfly championship finals. Her time of 57.09 gave her fourth place overall. Shangle finished seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.05.

On the men’s side, freshman Stephen Tarnowski was the only Lion to race in the championship finals of the 400-yard individual medley. He finished eighth overall with a time of 4:13.30. For those who finished ninth through 15th, they raced in the Consolation Finals. Senior Shawn Kircher placed sixth overall.

“Invitationals provide a lot more competition and more opportunities for racing since they’re prelims/finals format which is great practice for conference championships and NCAA’s,” Kircher said. “We’ll get pretty competitive at an invitational because of the atmosphere. This invite was both a mental and physical challenge for us since we were unrested and had a lot of competition, but everyone performed really well.”

The Lions return home this weekend hosting their own Invitational beginning on Friday.