The St. Thomas men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams sit in third place after the first day of the MIAC championships Feb. 17 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
St. Thomas divers junior Ray Baltera, sophomore Jeff Isaacson and freshman Nick Johnson placed second, third and fourth for the Tommies.
“As a team we came into the finals placing third, fifth and sixth,” Baltera said. “We left here second, third, fourth, so I’m really proud of myself and my teammates.”
Diving coach Mark Dusbabek said he was proud of his divers’ performances.
“I couldn’t expect anything better than what happened today,” Dusbabek said. “It was pretty remarkable to see how they performed.”
Baltera also led the Tommies in the 100-meter diving event and battled for the lead against Carleton senior Eric Brenner.
“Eric Brenner is a great diver out of Carleton College. To hold with him like they were the entire time, and then to finish ahead of St. Johns – you can’t ask for anything better than that,” Dusbabek said. “And it always feels good to beat the Johnnies.”
After the diving events, the 200-yard freestyle relay team of senior captain Becca Ney, sophomore Wendy Consoer and freshmen Hayley Trace and Erin Hogan swam its fastest race yet.
The Tommie women set a new school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay, placed second in the event and earned an NCAA “B” cut, which means they will advance to nationals if they place in the top 13 “B” cut teams. Ney said they will find out if their time puts them in the top 13 in March.
Ney said nerves make the conference meet “a different animal than any other meet” of the year.
“Adrenaline gets going and people swim on a lot of nerves,” Ney said. “This morning we were a little overly nervous, but we really pulled it through and did well.”
Ney’s 400-yard medley relay team also did well, shaving 10 seconds off the original preliminary time.
Freshman Ben Henrickson placed second in the 50-yard freestyle, and sophomore Sam Rauchwarter placed third in the 500-yard freestyle.
“I dropped time from last year and I still finished third,” Rauchwarter said. “I gave it all I got.”
Henrickson said he “had a good start and good turn, and the finish went well.”
Swimming and diving coach Tom Hodgson said he didn’t expect to be able to keep up with the other teams but was pleasantly surprised with his teams’ start to the meet.
“I think we’re getting now into our best events. We had eight kids swimming in events [Thursday] that we didn’t expect them to score in,” Hodgson said. “We do expect them to score in events [Friday] and Saturday, and that’s a lot of personnel that we can bring to the finals tomorrow. I’m looking forward to that.”
Hannah Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.