Swimming and diving team heads to Conference Championships

The Lawrence University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hit the road this past weekend for the Midwest Conference Championship meet hosted by Grinnell College. This meet was both a culmination and a celebration of the season for the team. All of their hard work since October led up to this point, and they have been on taper for the last two weeks. Yet the team tried to keep the mood light and fun throughout the three-day competition.

“The environment at conference is so inspiring to be around —everyone is focused but determined to have fun and watch everyone succeed!” said sophomore Erin Lengel. Everyone prepares for the meet differently. Lengel said, “I prepare for a big meet by taking it session by session and listening to lots of good jams!”

For the team competition, Lawrence is trying to score as many points as possible. The top 16 swimmers in each event score points, with first place scoring 20 points while 16th place scores one. Relays count for double, so a win in a relay event earns the team with 40 points. Conference is done in a prelims-finals format. In the morning, the swimmers compete for placing in the evening session. The top eight swimmers qualify for the A final where they compete for the top eight places. The B final takes swimmer 9-16 from the morning session.

Lawrence kicked off the meet with a strong showing on Friday, as the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay team of Lengel, sophomore Mandy Marsh, senior Lizzy Garcia and junior Bridget Duero took third. Duero then took fourth in the 500-yard freestyle while freshman Mae Grahs took eighth. The Lady Vikes scored lots of points in the 200-yard individual medley, as senior Sarah Schweikart was sixth, senior Emmi Zheng was ninth, junior Alena Hanson finished 13th, freshman Caitlyn Lansing was 14th and sophomore Annika Lund took 15th. In the 50-yard freestyle, Garcia was seventh while Marsh was ninth. In the 1-meter diving competition, freshman Maddy Smith took fourth. Finally, in the last event of the day, the 400-yard medley relay team of Lengel, Zheng, freshman Mizuki Ohama and Garcia took second.

On the men’s side of the competition, the Vikes kicked off the meet with a fourth-place finish from the 200-yard freestyle relay team of junior Tom Goldberg, sophomore Charlie Phillips, junior Liam Wulfman and sophomore Anton Hutchinson. Hutchinson also finished fourth in the 500-yard freestyle. In the 200-yard individual medley, senior Max Stahl was tenth and the 400-yard medley relay team of Wulfman, Goldberg, Phillips and Hutchinson took fourth.

The Lawrence women continued to roll on Saturday. They kicked off the day with a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay from the team of Lengel, Zheng, Ohama and Garcia. Then, in the 400-yard individual medley, junior Elise Riggle was third, Schweikart was fifth, freshman Laura Soderquist was tenth and Lund was 11th. In the 100-yard butterfly, Ohama was second while Garcia was seventh. Lengel than won the 200-yard freestyle and teammate Duero took second. Grahs was ninth, Marsh was 11th and Smith was 16th in the same event. In the 100-yard breaststroke, Zheng took second while Soderquist finished 12th. Lengel picked up her second victory of the night as she won the 100-yard backstroke as well. Freshman Leena Meyers took 15th in the event. In the three-meter diving competition, Smith picked up another second-place finish for Lawrence. The team closed out Saturday’s competition with a second-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay from the team of Duero, Marsh, Riggle and Grahs.

For the men, they kicked off Saturday with another fourth-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay with the team of Stahl, Goldberg, Phillips and Wulfman. In the 400-yard individual medley, freshman Ben Schrag finished 12th while senior Jordan Spalding was 13th. Wulfman picked up a fifth-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly while Phillips was 13th. Hutchinson finished second in the 200-yard freestyle, and Goldberg was third in the 100-yard breaststroke. In the 100-yard backstroke, Wulfman was third while Stahl was eighth. Finally, the team closed out Saturday with the 800-yard freestyle relay as the team of Spalding, Phillips, Stahl and Hutchinson took sixth.

The Lawrence women closed out Sunday strong, starting with the longest event, the 1650-yard freestyle. Riggle took second, Grahs took fifth, freshman Andrea Ritziu was 12th and junior Zoe Mann was 13th. In the 200-yard backstroke, Meyers finished 14th. Lengel won her third event of the competition, taking home the victory in the 100-yard freestyle. Duero was seventh, Garcia was 10th and Marsh was 13th in the same event. In the 200-yard breaststroke, Zheng finished second, Lansing was fifth and Soderquist was ninth. The Lady Vikes took home another win behind Ohama in the 200-yard butterfly: Schweickart was fifth, Riggle was sixth and Lund was ninth. Lawrence closed out the meet with a third-place finish by the team of Duero, Marsh, Garcia and Lengel in the 400-yard freestyle relay. 

The men were led by a pair of fourth place finishes on Sunday—Hutchinson was fourth in the 1650-yard freestyle, and Wulfman was fourth in the 200-yard backstroke. Phillips took tenth in the 1650, while Stahl was seventh and Schrage was 13th in the 200 back. In the 200-yard butterfly, Phillips was sixth, and freshman Nuwa Serunjogi was 15th. Finally, the team of Goldberg, Stahl, Wulfman and Hutchinson took fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“I’m so, so thrilled with how everyone did—and I’m so proud of how hard everyone worked this season! All of our hard work definitely paid off this weekend, and it was so incredible to watch everyone drop so much time and swim super speedy fast!” said Lengel. She continued, “The best part of conference is cheering for everyone! And along with that, there is nothing more encouraging than hearing all of your teammates cheering for you when you are behind the blocks!”

Overall, the Lawrence men finished fifth in the conference. The women had an incredibly strong showing and met their season goal of finishing second as they beat Lake Forest College by 38 points. Lengel was named Midwest Conference Swimmer of the Year on the women’s side and Coach Andrew Fleek was named Midwest Conference Coach of the Year. The team will now rest up after such a long meet before looking forward to future seasons.