2024 NEC Championships: Howard Men and Women Lead, Nwaeze Breaks 50 Free Record on Day 2


Both the Howard men and women made a strong push on Day 2 of the 2024 NEC Championships, taking over the team standings. 

The Howard women made the case for the NEC Championship title in the 50 freestyle, where the team stacked 5 swimmers into the A-final. With a strong showing in the event, Zuzu Nwaeze took a commanding victory over teammate Kelsey Roberson, as the pair of Howard swimmers finished 1-2 with times of 22.74 and 23.50, respectively. With her final time, Nwaeze crushed the previous NEC meet record of 23.00 that was set by Christine Rasile back in 2016. Howard also had the 4th, 5th, and 7th place finishers in the event, giving the team a huge boost in points. 

Like the women, the Howard men also showed up in the 50 freestyle, with 3 of the top 5 swimmers coming from the program. The event was won by LIU’s Alejandro Pascual Del Cid in a time of 20.42, followed closely by Howard’s Arion Solomon (20.52) and Taj Benton (20.53) to mark the tightest event finish of the night. 

Wagner College saw multiple swimmers take home titles on the men’s side with Ruben Van Gool opening the session with a winning time of 4:31.33 in the men’s 500 freestyle. Van Gool finished about a second ahead of Howard’s Luke-Kennedy Thompson for the title as Thompson touched in a time of 4:32.48. Wagner’s Brayden Schaeffer came in with a time of 4:37.45 to take the final spot on the podium. 

In the men’s 200 IM, Jasu Ovaskainen kept Wagner’s winning streak up, coming into the wall with a time of 1:48.11, over a second ahead of LIU’s Daniel Chocano Fernandez (1:49.73). Like the 500 freestyle, the Wagner men had a second swimmer make the podium here, with Nikko Carrillo finishing with a 1:51.83 for third. 

Wagner also posted wins in both the men’s and women’s 200 medley relays. In the men’s 200 medley relay, Wagner’s team of Kaan Nalcaci, Joel Knappi, Ovaskainen, and Enrico Mancardo combined for a winning time of 1:28.77. Ovaskainen led the team with a 20.97 split on the butterfly leg, the fastest split in the field. LIU’s relay team finished 2nd in a time of 1:28.79 with Alejandro Pascual Del Cid splitting a 19.69 on the anchor leg, the fastest anchor in the field. Howard maintained their strong showing, finishing third with a final time of 1:29.83. 

In the women’s 200 medley relay, Wagner posted a dominant time of 1:41.55 to finish almost 3 seconds ahead of the field. The team of Aura Vilarrasa, Rebekka Luoto, Rachael Harris, and Olivia Bishop stopped the clock just shy of the NEC meet record of 1:40.52 that was set back in 2016 by Wagner. Bishop was a huge difference-maker on the relay as her freestyle leg of 22.79 out split the whole field by over a half second. Howard’s team touched second with a time of 1:44.24, followed closely by CCSU in 1:44.36. 

CCSU’s Abbey Keane won the women’s 500 freestyle in a time of 4:54.57, coming in about a second ahead of Wagner’s Luoto (4:55.47). Sacred Heart’s Sophia Velleco touched third in a time of 4:57.54. 

In the women’s 200 IM, St. Francis saw its first win of the meet as Nicole Lopez Kohlmann came into the wall in a time of 2:04.06, over a half-second ahead of the field. Howard swimmers Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson and Michaela Spears battled it out down the final few meters for second, with Thompson touching second (2:04.60) with Spears (2:04.85) just behind. 

On the diving boards, Sacred Heart’s Lola Barrett won the women’s 1M diving event with a score of 267.65, with her teammate Olivia McNicholas finishing second with a score of 267.65. 

With their depth showing, the Howard women took over the lead in the women’s team points race, scoring 262 points through 2 days of competition. Reigning NEC Champion CCSU currently sits in 2nd with 413.5 points, while Day 1 leader Wagner currently sits in 3rd with 345 points. The Howard men retained their control over the men’s race with 262 points, followed by Wagner’s 227 points. LIU (185) moved ahead of Le Moyne (130) for 3rd.

Team Rankings Through Day 1 – Men

  1. Howard – 262
  2. Wagner – 227
  3. Long Island – 185
  4. Le Moyne – 130

Team Rankings Through Day 1 – Women

  1. Howard – 429
  2. CCSU – 413.5
  3. Wagner – 345
  4. Sacred Heart – 316
  5. St. Francis – 281.5
  6. Long Island – 196
  7. Stonehill/Merrimack – 110
  8. Le Moyne – 107


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1 month ago
Last edited 1 month ago by ISuckAtSwimming

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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