Individual scots shine at swimming and diving MIAC Championships

By Peter Steele

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams finished the conference championships in 6th and 5th place, respectively, at the U of M. Both results were improvements over last year, where the women were 7th and the men 8th. There were many impressive performances on both sides, and there will likely be several Scots going to the Division III National Championships to be held in the same pool over spring break. One of the most impressive swims was turned in by Nathan Young ’11, who swam the 100 yd backstroke in 50.31 seconds. He broke the school record he set in last year’s MIAC championships by 1.06 ticks of the clock, quite a feat in a sport where races are often decided by hundredths of a second. It was also good enough to earn the first automatic qualifying berth to nationals in Macalester school history. At nationals, Young will try to improve on last year’s 14th place finishes in both the 100 and 200 yd backstroke events, which earned him honorable mention All-American status.

Other strong swims on the men’s side included the 400 meter freestyle relay, which relied on the combined efforts of Young, Jeff Yamashita ’11, Paco Venneri ’12, and Seth McIntire ’09. They finished in 3:18.8, good enough for sixth place.

In the team competition, perennial conference powers St. Olaf and Gustavus Adolphus were once again at the top of the board, with St. Olaf handily winning by a score of 851 to 738. Their swimmers set three new conference records in the process.

For the women, the 5th place finish helped the Scots end on a strong note. As has been the case all season, there were a bunch of young swimmers who made an impact, reaching the finals and consolation finals of many events.

First, however, one of the seasoned veterans of MIAC diving had a score to settle with the rest of the conference. Annie Flanagan ’09 took second in the 1 meter dive last year, and took second in the 3 meter dive each of the past two years. This year, she broke through that barrier, winning both titles. Her scores were 404.8 for the 1-meter, and 391.1 for the 3-meter crown. Both scores should be strong enough to qualify her for nationals in those events.

Many of the other strong finishes came from the young swimmers. Karoline Hart ’12 was the only first-year in the pool in the finals of the 100 yd breaststroke, but that didn’t stop her from winning the title in a dolphin-like 1:05.41, an automatic entry to nationals. And oh yeah: it was also a meet record. She came back the next night to finish 3rd in the 200 breaststroke finals with another DIII B-cut and a time of 2:25.83.

Another speedy performance by a frosh came from Grace Flemming ’12, who toughed it out in the water for a full 17 minutes, 9 seconds to grab a 2nd place finish in the 1650 yd freestyle. That placing gives her all-MIAC honors. The time would have won the title in many other years, when the conference hasn’t been as strong in the event. Fleming solidified her place as the team’s distance stalwart by getting another all-MIAC award for her 3rd place finish in the 500 yd freestyle, which she swam in a time of 5:10.57.

Finally, Clare Pillsbury ’12 and Hillary Frey ’12 also swam exceptionally well. The two were 4th and 6th, respectively, in the 400 IM relay, with Pillsbury barely missing all-MIAC honors. Their times were 4:42.78 and 4:50.32.

In the overall team competition, Carleton won their first title since winning back-to-back championships in 2000-01.