The women of the U.S. Naval Academy dominated the first day’s scoring at the 2015 Frank Elm Invitational to the tune of more than a 200-point margin over their next-closest competitors. The meet, hosted by the female-only program at Rutgers, only included women’s teams.
Scores after day 1 of the meet:
- Navy – 635.5
- Rutgers – 415
- Northeastern – 331
- Liberty – 257.5
- James Madison – 257
- Central Connecticut State – 219
- Wagner – 190
- LIU-Post – 179
- Sacred Heart – 96
- New Hampshire – 95
The home team started the day off strong by winning the first two races of the session: the 200 free relay and the women’s 500 free. While the nature of the races are on opposite ends of the spectrum, senior Joanna Wu aided in both victories.
She led off a veteran relay (three seniors and one junior) with a 23.29 to win the 200 free relay by half-a-second over the Navy women; and then raced alone to an individual victory in the 500 free in 4:51.83.
The latter of those victories came as she held off Navy sophomore Jenny Smith (4:52.41), who had a better finish but dug an early hole in this race.
While Rutgers won those first two events, Navy had already begun using overwhelming depth to take the lead. Each of those top two teams had three swimmers in the A-Final, but Navy out-margined Rutgers 3-0 in the B-Final.
Navy built on that momentum with their first win of the night in the women’s 200 IM, where freshman Lauren Barber broke a dead-heat on the closing freestyle lap to win 2:00.36: half-a-second in front of Rutgers senior Morgan Pfaff. The two were separated by only .02 seconds as they entered the final 50 yards.
Navy pushed their effort to back-to-back victories in the women’s 50 free. Kenzie Margroum won in 23.27 and Maddie Thompson took 2nd in 23.36. Despite winning the 200 free relay to begin the session, Rutgers didn’t place a single swimmer into the A-Final of this 50 free, with their best finisher Meghan Kiely winding up in 14th with a 23.98.
Rutgers fought back in a big way by taking the top 3 spots on the night’s diving event, the women’s 3-meter (winner: Addy Walkowiak 326.20) while no Navy divers participated.
The Rutgers women fought back to end the day just how they began: with another relay victory. This time, it was a more dominant margin, taking the 400 medley in 3:43.10 to Navy’s 3:46.22. Wu again opened up with a considerable margin for the Scarlet Knights, swimming a 54.84 backstroke leg to place them two seconds ahead of the Navy women. Her teammates were able to stretch that lead by 50% (and opened up a full three seconds of margin on the Wagner women, who tied with Navy for 2nd-place in 3:46.22).
That’s easily the team’s best time of the season, and is better than they were mid-season last year by a wide margin as well, but Rutgers has a historical pattern of saving the majority of their “taper speed” for the year-ending conference championship meet.
While she didn’t finish among the winners on the first day of this meet, Wagner junior Anu Nihipali tuned up by winning the B-Final of the women’s 50 free (23.18) and swimming 54.81 for the fastest backstroke split of the field in the 400 medley relay. Last season, Nihipali became the program’s first-ever NCAA qualifier in her specialty event the 100 fly, which she will swim on Saturday.
Full, live meet results available here.