Swimming and diving sweep season opener against Ohio Wesleyan


Chris Heermann/The Observer

The CWRU men’s and women’s swim teams dove into the season opener with victories against Ohio Wesleyan

Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor

Case Western Reserve University’s swimming and diving athletes have been raring for competition after more than a year and a half of nothing. They finally got that opportunity last Saturday on the road against Ohio Wesleyan University.

“It’s really exciting,” said third-year Campbell Patterson in an interview with the CWRU Athletic Department. “We had some intersquad meets [within] the team … but any kind of real organized competition has just been on hiatus for a long time. It’s really exciting to finally get back into things, especially because now we’ve got the biggest team that the [program’s] ever had: a huge class, tons and tons of talent and we’ve had some really good training weeks so far.”

In addition to the competitions themselves, the requisite organization and coordination gave coaches and staff a sense of nostalgia.

“All of a sudden, all the stress and the logistics of trying to order meals and stuff for me has come back into play, and it’s a pain to do it, but man, is it exciting to have to worry about that,” relayed Head Coach Doug Milliken. “It’s been a long 18-19 months … and I think that as we’ve gotten closer to it, the energy level and the nerves have slowly been creeping up for everyone. But it is exciting, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The anticipation was well worth it, as the CWRU swimming and diving teams had strong performances in the sweep against Ohio Wesleyan. The women’s team earned a 273-22 win while the men took a 278-16 victory.

For the women’s team, four athletes earned victories in multiple events. Third-year Abby Halsdorfer bested the rest of the field in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:51.82 and in the 500-yard freestyle, completing the distance in 5:20.65. First-year Madison McDaniels won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke with times of 1:08.83 and 2:32.93, respectively. Fellow first-year Gabriella Chambers finished first in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.33) and in the 50-yard freestyle (24.86). First-year Simone Vale took the victory in the 100-yard backstroke (59.35) and the 100-yard freestyle (55.02).

Several other women claimed the first spots in their respective swimming events. First-year Kate Menzer took the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:12.54, first-year Elishka Bailey won the 200-yard backstroke in in 2:08.43, first-year Nara Lee claimed victory in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:00.39 and first-year Isabel Verheyen earned the top spot in the 400-yard individual medley after completing the swim in 4:37.12. McDaniels, Chambers, fourth-year Anna Smith and first-year Erica Rice also took the first-place finish in the women’s 200-yard medley relay (1:52.27) while Chambers, Vale, Lee and first-year Angeli Paull speedily claimed the 200-yard freestyle relay (2:12.15).

Fourth-year Hailey Seibert took the victory in the one-meter dive with a strong score of 177.65. First-year Jocelyn Schechter won the three-meter dive with an impressive 210.90 score.

Three athletes on the men’s team emerged victorious in multiple events. Fourth-year Kelvin Tay won the 100-yard backstroke (53.40) and the 200-yard backstroke (1:58.29). First-year Peter Meng won the 1,000-yard freestyle with a stellar time of 9:43.88 as well as the 400-yard individual medley in 4:11.98. Rounding out the top performers, second-year Ethan Chuang won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke with times of 58.32 and 2:10.26, respectively.

First-year Stephen Hogeman claimed the 200-yard freestyle (1:45.91), first-year Jackson Pollard won the 200-yard butterfly (2:00.15), third-year Patterson took the 50-yard freestyle (21.57), third-year Andrew Smith won the 100-yard freestyle (47.98), third-year Xander Guerrero took the victory in the 500-yard freestyle (4:50.57) and first-year Ben Zuo earned the win in the 100-yard butterfly (51.92). The men’s team also won both the relays, with Smith, fourth-year Calvin Tecson, third-year Anatole Borisov and first-year Jasha Heide winning the 200-yard medley relay (1:37.04) while Smith, Pollard, Zuo and fourth-year Connor Chignell took the win in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:27.43).

In the diving events, first-year Nico Billoni swept both the one-meter dive and the three-meter dive with scores of 216.85 and 212.15, respectively.

Coach Milliken expressed optimism following the results of the first meet, saying that “You know what [the athletes are] like on paper, and you’ve seen what they’ve done in practice, but until you get into a competitive setting, you just never really know for sure, but I felt like they responded really, really well and threw down some good races. [It’s] never going to be perfect across the board, but we had some really good standout performances.”

For the upcoming home opener against Carnegie Mellon University, the coaches and athletes alike understand that the level of intensity will certainly be elevated compared to their first competition.

“I am so excited to go against CMU. It’s always a really tough competition, but I think we’re ready this year,” responded third-year Maria Pritchett. “I know we’ve got our eye on it this week [and we’ve been] working extra hard … We need to be ready. We’re so stoked.”

Coach Milliken echoed similar sentiments but also emphasized the long-term vision for the athletes as the season progresses.

“CMU [has] a really deep team, top to bottom they don’t have any weaknesses on the men’s side or the women’s side, [so] it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us. At the end of the day, it’s just another opportunity to get up there and race … In swimming and diving, dual meets matter to an extent, but you’re always building towards the end of the year …  So there’s going to be things that we’re looking for and we’re looking for our team to rise up to the challenge,” Milliken said.

The athletes appear to be revving up for the competition and prepared to meet the challenge head-on.  

“We were really close to a bunch of school records [against Ohio Wesleyan] which is amazing for this point in the season, and that just gets me even more excited for next weekend taking on rival CMU,” said Andrew Smith. “It’s nice coming this year with a much deeper team, a much faster team and I think we’re going to give them a little bit of a run for their money that they’re not expecting, which will be really fun to have as a home meet.”

The swimming and diving teams will be taking on Carnegie Mellon University in the Veale Natatorium on Saturday, Oct. 30. Diving begins at 11 a.m. and swimming takes off at 1 p.m.