USF Swimming Takes Third at Conference Swim Meet
By: Tori Bailey
The USF Cougar swim team competed in Bismarck, North Dakota in their conference swim meet from February 12 -15 to crown the champions of the Northern Sun conference in 20 events.
The Cougars took third place overall at conference but had a tough go with Minnesota State Mankato, who took second and St. Cloud State University who took first; the Cougars were only eight and a half points from taking second.
Day one of the swim meet saw Lizzy Spaans take first in the 200 Individual Medley (IM) and win her first individual title, taking the first win for the team. Makenzy Kennedy placed third in the 200 IM and joined Spaans on the podium. “I felt happy to do well in my event and was happy to have another teammate on the podium with me.” said Spaans about the win. After the first day of finals the Cougars were in the lead with 191 team points.
On the second day, Ella Johnson defended her title for the 100 butterfly and took first place. She was later in a first place relay, the 400 medley, with Spaans, Chantal Kasch, and Jenna Krahn. At the end of the second day the Cougars were in third place behind Mankato and St. Cloud.
Spaans, Johnson, and Kasch, lead the Cougars on day three with first place finishes in the 100 backstroke, 200 butterfly, and 100 breaststroke; Kennedy placed in third with Johnson in the 200 butterfly. Later in the meet Johnson, Valerie Childs, Evelyn VanDeMark, and Giulia Fazza Marcon won the 800 free relay. Relays are very important in a swim meet because they are worth double the points of an individual event. This first place performance broke the NSIC record and the swimmers won the event by nearly six seconds. The win also helped the Cougars finish off the day in second place behind St. Cloud.
Kasch took her second individual title on thefourth day in the 200 breaststroke. The distance swimmers also had a great performance placing three swimmers in the top 8 for the 1650 freestyle, Nina Groene, VanDeMark, and Kennedy. The Cougars also placed two 400 free relays in the top eight.
In total the Cougars had 34 all-NSIC performers and put together 12 NCAA B cut times. The B cuts have a chance to be invited to the NCAA Championship meet in March. Overall the team and coaches seemed very pleased with their performance at the competition. “I saw my teammates rise to the challenge and put themselves out there, it was a great thing to be a part of,” said Julia Zanto, “I’m just proud to call myself a member of this team. We all band together, we fight so hard and pick each other up when we’re struggling.” Although the Cougars were aiming for a conference win they seem to be optimistic about the future. Freshman Burke Henderson said, “ I can see our program taking first in the future, it would help if we had a diving team but with the coaches and the girls pushing you to achieve your goals, you’re always having fun while doing you something you love.”
The Cougars have one more meet before their season ends. Spaans said, “I think the Last Chance Meet is a great opportunity to swim fast without a lot of pressure. It would be great to have some people there to cheer us on!” Sunday, February 23, the Cougars will compete with the Summit League in their Last Chance Meet, at Midco Aquatic Center to finish off the regular season. The meet will be long course meters in an attempt to get more NCAA cuts before the big meet comes around in March.