Swimming: Splashing to a sweep

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February 29, 2016

11:44 PM

For the first time since 2006, one team will be taking home both Colonial Athletic Association Championship trophies. William and Mary stormed to victories on both the women’s and men’s side in the four-day CAA Championships in Richmond from Feb. 24-27, culminating with both teams being crowned champions Saturday night. These victories also mark the first time the College has claimed both titles since the CAA formed in 1985.

The weekend was capped by a string of individual star performances that saw four Tribe swimmers qualify for Olympic trials Sunday. Junior Jaimie Miller and her freshman sister Annie Miller both will swim the 50-yard free, while men’s seniors Will Manion (100-yard backstroke) and Jeremiah O’Donnell (100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke) also qualified.

The men’s team had a 2015 title to defend and did so in style, breaking the school points record (784.5) and CAA points record (previously held by James Madison at 832) en route to a 969.5-point demolishing of the competition. The next-closest team, Towson, trailed by almost 400 points.

The men’s team had a 2015 title to defend and did so in style, breaking the school points record (784.5) and CAA points record (previously held by James Madison at 832) en route to a 969.5-point demolishing of the competition.

Several strong performances by the relay squads anchored the men’s team. The Tribe set a meet record in winning the 800-yard freestyle relay and also took home the 400-yard freestyle relay, 200-yard freestyle relay, and 400-yard medley relay.

Impressive individual performances took the College well over the competition. Freshman Eric Grimes edged a win in the 500-yard freestyle by .45 seconds with sophomores Conrad Zamparello and Tommy Kealy also in the top four. In the 200-yard individual medley, the upperclassman trio of senior Jeremiah O’Donnell, senior Will Manion and junior Alex Montes de Oca dominated the top three, all earning NCAA-B qualifying times in the process. William and Mary swimmers also placed fifth, sixth, and seventh.

Junior Joe Eiden set school records in the 50-yard freestyle (23.60) and 100-yard freestyle (51.28). Sophomore Evan Baker also qualified for the U.S. Open Swimming Championships in the 100-yard butterfly, barely touching the edge of the pool before Drexel’s Kyle Lukens in 47.56 seconds.

The women’s team, meanwhile, was not so heavily favored. James Madison took the lead briefly after the 200-yard freestyle event Friday, and it appeared as though the championship may have slipped away. However, four William and Mary swimmers placing in the 100-yard breast, along with junior Sophie Rittenhouse blasting the CAA record in the 100-yard backstroke (53.71), opened up a 19-point gap going into the final day.

A masterful individual display saw senior Jessie Ustjanauskas win Most Outstanding Swimmer of the meet.

Saturday, the Tribe showed up to close the deal. Freshman Morgan Smith set a school record and freshman record, swimming the 1650-yard freestyle in 16:36.86, while Jaimie Miller won the 100-yard free. Five athletes placed in the 200-yard breaststroke to bring home the win.

A masterful individual display saw senior Jessie Ustjanauskas win Most Outstanding Swimmer of the meet. The dominant Tribe senior qualified for the U.S. Open and set a meet record while winning the 100-yard butterfly in 53.21 seconds, contributed a blazing butterfly time to the CAA record-setting 400-yard medley relay team, and also qualified for the NCAA-B competition in the 200-yard butterfly.

Director of swimming Matt Crispino ’02 and his staff earned Men’s and Women’s Coaches of the Year honors for the first time.

For some swimmers, the season will continue next month. The NCAA Division I Championships will see Tribe swimmers travel to Atlanta, Ga., from March 23-26. Meanwhile, the Tribe’s top swimmers will have to wait until June 26 to compete in Omaha, NE in the U.S. Olympic Trials, while this year’s U.S. Open kicks off Aug. 2 in Minneapolis, MN.

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  • Henry Trotter