Calvin Men & Women Kick Off MIAA Championships With Record-Setting 800 Free Relays

2024 MIAA Swimming & Diving Championships

Courtesy: Calvin Athletics

Women’s Recap

HOLLAND, Mich. – The Calvin women’s swimming and diving team put together a record-setting night to take the early lead at the MIAA Championships.

Calvin’s 800 freestyle relay of freshman Emma Merkel (Wyoming, Mich./Grandville HS), junior Sydney Sonday (Portage, Mich./Portage Central HS), senior Maggie Farrell (Portage, Mich./Portage Central HS) and senior Isabella Gable (Greenville, Oh./Arcanum-Butler HS) blasted through the Holland Aquatic Center water to win in a Calvin and MIAA-record time of 7:27.59. The time broke the previous Calvin and MIAA record of 7:28.14 set in 2018. The time is also a strong NCAA B’ cut qualifying time, placing Calvin eighth on the NCAA III performance list this season.

Calvin opened the competition with a second place finish in the consolation final as the Calvin B’ 800 freestyle relay of sophomore Kristin Winkle (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS), senior Sophia Korfmacher (Midland, Mich./Lakeshore HS), sophomore Madi McNearney (Riverside, Mo./Park Hill South HS) and junior Becca Streelman (Newberg, Ore./Home School) took second in a time of 7:59.30 to earn 14 points for the Knights.

In the championship final, Merkel led off the relay with an opening split and NCAA B’ cut qualifying time of 1:51.13. Sonday and Farrell followed with legs two and three, keeping the Knights close behind Hope’s A’ relay but the Knights still trailed heading into the final 200. Gable jumped into the water and maintained close contact and with 75 yards to go, made a move that allowed her to take the lead. Gable exploded down the final 25 yards, finishing her relay split in 1:49.68 to allow the Knights to win the race by nearly two seconds.

The pair of relay performances by the Knights bumped their overall day one total to 54 points, two points ahead of Hope.

COACHES COMMENT: “Just a couple of weeks ago we were hemming and hawing about whether we would come up with an 800 free relay to go for the win,” said Dan Gelderloos. “We came up with a plan and our women executed that plan perfectly. Emma went toe-to-toe with one of the top swimmers in the MIAA in the opening split and Sydney and Maggie held strong. Then Isabella hit 1:49 for the first time in a long time. It was a great thing to see.”

NEXT UP: Competition continues Thursday with prelims at 10 a.m. and championship finals set to begin at 5 p.m.

Men’s Recap

HOLLAND, Mich. – The Calvin men’s swimming and diving team had a record-breaking opening night of competition at the MIAA Championships to build an early first place lead.

Fueled by a record-setting 800 freestyle relay team, Calvin bumped its day one total up to 58 points, 10 points ahead of Hope.

Calvin took first place in the consolation final and then set an MIAA and Calvin record in the championship final.

Calvin’s B’ relay of senior Julien Camy (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS), freshman Ryan Halberg (Novi, Mich./Northville HS), sophomore Jacob Ziegler (Toledo, Oh./St. John’s Jesuit HS) and junior Jack Kulaga (Downers Grove, Il./Downers Grove South HS) cruised to a win in the consolation final in a time of 6:46.39 to earn 18 points. Camy led off the relay with an impressive opening 200 split of 1:39.99.

The championship final turned into a heavyweight bout between the A’ squads from Calvin and Hope. The lead changed hands throughout the relay but the Calvin quartet of junior David Bajwa (Bethesda, Md./The Heights School), graduate student Eric Chimes (Broadview Heights, Oh./Brecksville-Broadview HS), junior Josh Seidelman (Northville, Mich./Northville HS) and sophomore Charles Platt (Downers Grove, Il./Downers Grove North HS) came up with the win in a Calvin and MIAA-record time of 6:37.94. The time broke the previous Calvin and MIAA record of 6:38.29 set by Calvin in 2022. The time is also a strong NCAA B’ cut qualifying time and ranks Calvin 10th nationally.

Bajwa took the relay out in an opening split of 1:39.89 with Platt coming from behind in the final 50 of his 200 split, moving past Hope and charging to the wall for the win. Platt’s final split was an impressive 1:37.66 with the Knights finishing more than two seconds ahead of Hope’s A’ relay.

In addition, Calvin had a strong night in the prelims of the men’s one-meter diving competition with junior Wil Goodpaster (Hamilton, Mich./Hamilton HS) claiming the top score of the 11-dive competition with 433.95 points and junior Jason Perez (Plainwell, Mich./Plainwell HS) placing third with 411.05 points as both Calvin divers advanced to Thursday’s final.

COACHES COMMENT: “Our B’ relay had a ton of ‘newbies’ in there and they all came out strong with best times across the board,” said Calvin head swim coach Dan Gelderloos. “With the A’ relay, hat’s off first to Hope for a great swim and pushing us. David had a great opening split and our next two guys held strong and then Charles came up big. He just knows how to swim the relay well. He has that extra gear at the end. Super proud of that relay. I’m also very pleased with our divers tonight. They came up big and put us in a good position for tomorrow.”

NEXT UP: Competition continues Thursday with prelims at 10 a.m. and championship finals set to begin at 5 p.m.

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