The UConn women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams were very impressive at this season’s American Athletic Conference Championship in Houston, Texas. Several NCAA qualifiers and school records were set as the women finished in fifth place and the men took home a fourth place finish. The NCAA has two types of qualifications: the A standard is an immediate invite to the NCAA Championship; the B standard fills up the addition spots for each race as necessary.
After the first day of competition, the women found themselves in first place with 118 points. Among their impressive performances, the 800-yard freestyle relay set a new school record. Emma Smith, Maddie Blair, Sophie Nothnagle and Margot Manning finished fifth overall. The women’s 200-yard relay finished sixth overall. Christine Pedersen, Julie Hu, Brazil Rule and Manning contributed 26 points to the team’s overall score. However, the biggest performance of the day came from the women’s diving team. They finished first in the 1-meter dive, with Alli Butera, Monica Marcello and Michelle Kalupski all finishing atop the podium. All four divers had top-eight finishes to win the event with a score of 64.
The men also set records on their first day. The 800-yard freestyle relay placed second overall. Will Kearsey, James Donlevy, Kyle Kimura and Chris Girg finished nearly four seconds faster than the previous Husky record. The 200-yard medley relay also set a school record thanks to Will Kearsey’s first leg at 21.62 seconds. Kearsey, along with Mark Hunter, Kimura and Donlevy placed fourth overall in the event. The divers placed first in the 3-meter competition, finishing just one point ahead of East Carolina. Dan Kinney medaled in third place overall. Spencer Beaulieu took sixth and Kyle Kennedy took seventh to give the Huskies the first-place finish.
Records continued to be broken on day two of the tournament. Emma Smith set a school record in her 500-yard freestyle. At 4:44.34, she finished first in the event and swam an NCAA B qualifying time. The 200-yard freestyle relay set their own school record. Manning, Blair, Rule and Eliza Manning finished over half a second faster. M. Manning qualified for the A-Finals and finished eighth overall in her 200-yard IM. Sister E. Manning qualified for the B-Final and finished 11th overall in the 50-yard freestyle. UConn slipped to third place overall after day two was completed.
Matthew Dagenais decided it was his turn to set a new record on day two. His 200-yard IM put him in second place overall. Kearsey finished just behind him in third. Both swam NCAA B qualifying times. Karl Bishop finished fourth in the 500-yard freestyle, while Girg qualified for the B-final of this even and finished ninth. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Dan Krentsa, Kevin Konarski, Hunter and Dagenais completed a fourth place finish. For the divers, Kinney finished third in the 1-meter and earned yet another spot on the podium. Kennedy finished sixth and Beaulieu finished in eighth. The men ended the second day in third place overall.
Day three saw yet another school record broken. Jamie Lynn Brookover finished sixth in the A-Final for her 100-yard backstoke. Smith competed in the A-final of the 400 IM and finished sixth overall. The 3-meter dive for the women saw Marcello finish on the podium in third place overall. Butera finished in fourth and Kalupski was right behind her in fifth. The women finished the day in fifth overall.
Kearsey broke another school record on his third day of competition. His 100-yard backstroke beat his own school record at 48.00, and qualified for NCAA B. Donlevy finished second with an NCAA B qualifying time in his 200-yard freestyle. The 400-yard medley relay of Kearsey, Hunter, Kimura and Donlevy broke another school record, finishing at 3:15.00. Kimura also nabbed an NCAA B qualifying time for his sixth place finish in the 100-yard butterfly. The men finished the day in fourth place overall.
Day four did not disappoint. Smith impressed yet again, finishing first in the 1650-yard freestyle. Her time of 16:19.90 not only destroyed the UConn record, but set a new conference meet record. Pederson brought home an NCAA B qualifying time in her 200-yard backstroke. Overall, the women finished fifth with 460 points.
On the men’s side, Bishop also broke a 1650-yard freestyle record in his second place finish. Kearsey wasn’t done yet, breaking yet another school record in his 200-yard backstroke and meeting the NCAA B standards. He finished as the third highest swimmer in the tournament, earning 56 points overall. Donley broke the UConn record in his 100-yard freestyle, reaching an NCAA B qualifying time. On the platform, an event that UConn almost never has the opportunity to practice, Beaulieu pulled out an upset to finish atop the podium. The men finished fourth overall with a score of 634.5.
The NCAA Zone A Diving begins on March 6. The Huskies will finish out their season at the NCAA Championships beginning on March 16.
Rachel Schaefer is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.