The first night of individual racing at the AAC Championships led to pool records falling in nearly every event. Louisville still maintains comfortable margins on both sides of the meet, winning 4 events, including a dominant 1:56.34 in the 200 IM from Tanja Kylliainen. Joao de Lucca was up to his usual tricks in the 50 free, and Nolan Tesone won a big 200 IM for the Cardinal men.
Jackie Keire had a great night for Cincinnati. The freshman won the 500 free and put up a big leadoff split on the Bearcats’ 200 free relay. Houston dominated women’s diving with Natasha Burgess leading a 1-2 charge, and Chinyere Pigot paced the 50 free for UConn.
Women’s 500 Free
Things kicked off with an outstanding race to get the crowd fired up. Cincinnati freshman Jackie Keire did battle with SMU’s Nina Rangelova for the full 500 yards, with the race coming down to the final 50. Keire led the first 250, then gave way to Rangelova for the next 200. But Keire roared back over the final lap to win in 4:43.02, a new pool record by .02.
Rangelova ended up second in 4:43.97, and the top two really ran away from the field. Louisville took the next four spots, led by a pair of freshmen, Abbie Houck and Andrea Kneppers, both of whom went 4:46s.
Rutgers’ Joanna Wu was seventh, followed by SMU first-year Ursa Bezan in what was a very freshmen-dominated field. Senior Heather Winn won the B final for Houston in 4:51.70.
Men’s 500 Free
The men’s 500 was its own battle of youth. Top seeded freshman Trevor Carroll of Louisville had it out with UConn rookie Christopher Girg. Girg held a slight advantage most of the way until Carroll tied things up at the 400 mark. But the UConn Husky’s closing speed was too much to match, and he went 4:19.24 to pick up the AAC title over Carroll’s 4:19.52.
The entire top 4 were all freshmen: Carroll’s freshmen Louisville teammates Matthias Lindenbauer and Jake Schultz finished 3 and 4 before fellow Cardinal Bryan Draganosky, a sophomore, came in fifth.
UConn’s Michael Lennon, Cincinnati’s Joe Bott and UConn’s Luke Zalewski finished out the top 8.
Connecticut had a great finals showing in the event, also winning the B heat with junior Franz Sawyer.
Women’s 200 IM
Swimming in front of her home crowd, Louisville junior Tanja Kylliainen absolutely obliterated the pool record in the 200 IM, going 1:56.34 to win the inaugural AAC title in the event. She had the field’s fastest split on 3 of the 4 legs (everything but breaststroke, where she was still a respectable 33.9) and broke the record by 4 seconds. Second place was Rutgers’ Morgan Pfaff, who also got under the old record with a 1:58.46.
Louisville grabbed third and fourth with Erica Belcher and Andee Cottrell (both 2:00s), while SMU’s Rachel Nicol went 2:01.60 for fifth.
Men’s 200 IM
Top seed Nolan Tesone of Louisville dropped another few tenths off his pool record from the prelims, going 1:45.30 to win the men’s version of the 200 IM. Tesone was great through the front half of the race, leading by nearly a second at the 100 mark.
His teammate Josh Quallen came in second with a 1:46.82. SMU’s Nicolai Hansen got in in 1:47.06 before the rest of the Louisville Cardinals, David Boland and Addison Bray, finished up. Louisville placed four men in each of the A finals tonight, and this crew even managed to outscore their 500 free counterparts.
UConn’s Greg Baliko and SMU’s Tucker Wells also got under 1:50 in the race.
Women’s 50 Free
This morning’s 50 free set up a tie for the #1 seed between Kelsi Worrell of Louisville and Chinyere Pigot of Connecticut. Pigot dropped two more tenths to take full control of the pool record, winning the race in 22.61. She needed every bit of that, too, as SMU’s newly-added freshman Marne Erasmus went 22.68 for second place.
Krissie Brandenburg was third for Louisville and SMU’s Isabella Arcila took fourthl Worrell went the opposite direction of Pigot, struggling some at finals to a 5th place 22.87 finish.
SMU’s third finalist also snuck under 23 seconds – Nathalie Lindborg went 22.98 for sixth place.
Men’s 50 Free
After only two men got under 20 seconds this morning, that number nearly tripled at finals. Louisville held onto the top two seeds with senior star Joao de Lucca leading with a pool-record 19.58. Thomas Dahlia was 19.87 for second, exactly what he went this morning to grab the 2-seed.
SMU put three men into the A final, with two of them breaking 20. Ramom Melo went 19.91 for 3rd, while Ziga Cerkovnik finished 5th in 19.98. Sandwiched in between them was Louisville junior Carlyle Blondell in 19.94.
SMU’s Ryan Koops took sixth, followed by Felix Samuels of UConn and Kameron Chastain of Louisville.
Women’s 1-meter Diving
Houston cleaned up in the diving event, sweeping the top two spots for their biggest points of the meet so far. Natasha Burgess won with a score of 289.25, just five points up on teammate Danielle Shedd. UConn’s Taryn Urbanus, who won the 3-meter event last night, took third with a 270.90.
Rutgers scored three divers, led by senior Nicole Scott‘s 257.55 t0 stay ahead of Houston in the team points. Louisville grabbed spots 5-7 behind Scott, with Andrea Acquista holding the team’s top score.
Women’s 200 Free Relay
SMU rolled to victory in the women’s relay, smashing the pool record with a 1:29.83. Marne Erasmus, Isabella Arcila, Monika Babok and Nathalie Lindborg made up the team, with Arcila splitting a field-best 22.1.
They were well ahead of second-place Cincinnati. Jackie Keire led off in 22.8 for the Bearcats, keeping pace with Erasmus, but the back half of SMU’s relay was too much to match. Cincinnati went 1:32.01. Louisville, swimming without top 50 freestyler Kelsi Worrell, went 1:32.38 for third place. Worrell didn’t swim this relay after leading off the 800 free relay last night, presumably to allow her the full 3 individual races she can swim along with four relays, instead of 2 individuals and all 5 relays. It’s still unknown what Worrell will swim tomorrow, her traditional 100 free or the 200 fly, where she put up one of the top times in the NCAA earlier this year.
Men’s 200 Free Relay
Louisville ran away with the men’s relay, going 1:18.34 for yet another pool record. This squad has the potential to be a high point scorer at NCAAs, and was nearly straight 19s tonight. Carlyle Blondell led off in 20.16, but was 19.98 in the open 50 earlier in the night. Other than that, the relay members were all sub-20. Joao de Lucca split 19.13, Thomas Dahlia 19.43 and Trevor Carroll 19.62.
SMU also got under the old pool record, going 1:19.16 for second place. Ramom Melo was 19.3 on his split, and Matt Roney put up a 19.7 anchoring.
The only other 19-second split was Felix Samuels on the third-place UConn squad. He went 19.9 as UConn went 1:20.96.