M. and W. Swimming finish in top five at NCAAs

By ESTHER HONG | March 29, 2018

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COURTESY OF HOPKINSSPORTS.COM The men's swim team took fourth at the NCAA National Championships, while the women took fifth.

While many students sought warmth during spring break, the men’s and women’s swim teams looked to compete at their last meet of the year at the 2018 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Gritting through the four-day long competition, both teams displayed impressive performances throughout the week. 

After competing in 20 different events, the men’s team finished the week fourth in the nation with 287 points, scoring 53 of those points on the final day of competition.

“We outscored our projected point total by the end of the meet and came closer than ever to taking down some of the top teams in the country,” junior Emile Kuyl said.

Sophomore Brandon Fabian, who claimed his individual national championship title in the 200 Free the day before, took a second-place finish in the consolation final of the 100 Free, earning Honorable Mention All-America honors for his last-day performance. Finishing in a time of 44.33, Fabian was short a career-best by just four-hundredths of a second. Still, his time stands as the third fastest ever in program history at a National Championship.

Kuyl followed with a seventh-place finish in the 200 Back. He recorded a career-best 1:49.86 and took home First Team All-America honors.

“The confidence and motivation that enabled me to accomplish those could not have been done without the friendly competition of my teammates and the looks on their faces by the edge of the pool as I prepared to jump or dive in” Kuyl said.

To cap off the last day, Kuyl and Fabian combined forces, along with juniors Alex Carson and Michael Wohl, to take on the 400 Free Relay. The four swimmers finished at 2:59.07 — the third-fastest time in program history — earning First Team All-America honors and a second-place finish. The relay marked the 10th top-three finish in program history in the event and the best finish since the 2013 season.

The combined efforts of everyone on the men’s swimming team brought them to a fourth-place team finish for the third straight year and for the fourth time in the last five years. Moreover, the 2017-2018 team records the program’s 23rd top-four finish.

Along with the impressive team finish, several Blue Jays also earned individual All-America honors. Leading the tally were Fabian and Kuyl, who earned the maximum of seven honors at this year’s meet. The two are among only eight other Blue Jays to accomplish this feat.

The seniors conclude their collegiate careers in Indianapolis, leaving the program with many inspiring legacies. 

Senior Mark Wilson finishes his career with a total of 15 All-America honors, five of which were earned this year. Senior Kyle Otazu earned two All-America honors this year, improving his career tally to nine. Senior Jan Hagemeister earned three All-America honors this year for a total of five throughout his collegiate career. Seniors Michael Ashmead, Davis Knox and Pete Conzola end their careers with seven, four and two All-America honors, respectively.

“The six senior men at the meet, all earning All-American honors, have been outstanding since I stepped on campus my freshman year,” Kuyl said. “They have been the ones that I have been chasing and looking up to my entire career here at Hopkins.”

Kuyl attributes the team’s success to the coaching staff’s emphasis on mental strength.

“One of the biggest messages that Coach Scott [Armstrong] and Nick [Charriez] have been giving us since they’ve been here is this: If you’re given an opportunity to do great, don’t let the pressure of the moment feel like a hindrance, but rather use that opportunity to allow your preparation and discipline to make everything click together,” Kuyl said.

Meanwhile, the women’s team also ended the season impressively, claiming fifth in the nation, collecting a total of 228 points throughout the week’s 20 events. 

On the last day of competition, freshman Emma McElrath was the first in the pool for the women, taking home an 11th-place finish in the 1650 Free. Her time of 17:07.99 marks the third-fastest time in program history, earning her Honorable Mention All-America honors in just her first year as a collegiate athlete. Even more impressively, McElrath is the first Blue Jay to earn All-America in the 1650 Free since 2004 and just the fifth Jay in program history to earn All-America honors in the event.

Sophomore Kristen Petersen followed with a fourth-place finish and First Team All-America honors in the 100 Free. 

Senior Sara Wujciak took a sixth-place finish in the consolation final of the 200 Breast after finishing the first prelim heat with a career-best time of 2:20.04. The senior was awarded her first All-America honor for her performance.

The fifth-place team finish marks only the seventh top-five finish for the Jays in program history, five of which came in the past six years. Hopkins earned 108.5 more points than the 2016-2017 team, who finished ninth in the National Championships.

Similar to the men, the seniors on the women’s team conclude their careers with long lists of All-America honors to take with them. 

Seniors Gwynnie LaMastra and Anna Wisniewski finish with 16 honors apiece, tying for the 11th most All-America honors in program history. 

Senior Kaitlin Jones earned two honors this year, finishing her career with 17 All-America honors — the 10th most in program history.

Senior Courtney Cowan finishes her career with 12 honors and has tied for 21st in Hopkins history.

Being amongst the top teams in the country, both the men’s and women’s teams look forward to getting back in the pool to start their offseason training, aiming to trade their respective fourth and fifth-place finishes for the National Championship title.

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