Denver Swimmers Still Undefeated Through Day 3 of Summit League Championships

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 2

February 22nd, 2020 News

2020 SUMMIT LEAGUE Swimming & Diving Championships – MEN & WOMEN

The Denver Pioneers remained undefeated in the lanes, while South Dakota State continued their success in the men’s diving events, on day 3 of the 2020 Summit League Swimming & Diving Championships.

The Denver women haven’t lost a single event with just 1 day of competition to go, while the Denver men have won every swimming event, falling only in diving competition to South Dakota State.

If Denver completes the meet undefeated, this would mark the 4th-straight season of a perfect swimming meet for the Denver men (they haven’t won any diving events in that run) and the 5th-straight season of a perfect swimming meet for the Denver women. The Denver women also went 1-2 in 1-meter diving, so they could score a complete sweep for the first time since 2015. The Denver women have only lost 1 swimming event, the 200 breast in 2014, since joining the conference.

Summit League Friday – Men’s Recap

Team Scoring – After Day 3:

  1. Denver – 743
  2. South Dakota – 503
  3. (TIE) South Dakota State/Eastern Illinois – 420
  4. Western Illinois – 166
  5. Valparaiso – 156

The Denver men kicked off the night by winning the 400 medley relay in 3:07.93 – a better-than-11 second margin of victory. The swim set a new Summit League Championship Record.

That time was .19 seconds of the NCAA Provisional Standard in the event. Denver already has an Auto cut (“A” cut) in the 200 free relay, which means they only need “B” cuts in other relays to be eligible to race those at the NCAA Championships as well. A 400 medley relay time trial is scheduled for Saturday after prelims.

That was one of 2 Meet Records on the 3rd day of competition. The other came in the men’s 100 breaststroke, where Denver’s Adriel Sanes swam a 52.32. That time ranks him 18th in the country so far this season and would have earned an invite to last year’s NCAA Championship meet.

His previous personal best in the event was 53.50, and his best time coming into this season was 54.00.

After the relay victory, Denver went 1-2-3 in the men’s 400 IM, led by a season best of 3:54.74 from junior Trent Panzera. Panzera takes the torch in the race from the now-graduated Kyle Ewoldt, who through last year was 4-for-4 in his career in Summit League titles in the 400 IM.

Freshman Riley Babson took 2nd in 3:55.34 and sophomore Blayze Jessen placed 3rd in 4:01.25.

Denver senior Hugo Sykes pulled off an upset in the 200 free, winning in 1:37.67. His teammate Colin Gilbert, the defending champion, tied for 4th in 1:39.37, part of a 5-in-A-finals effort for the Denver men.

Valparaiso’s Dominic May placed 2nd in the 200 free in 1:39.08, which cut almost 2 seconds off his previous school record in the event. He becomes Valparaiso’s first All-League honoree in men’s swimming since 2006.

Rounding out the day for the Denver men was a 1-2 finish in the men’s 100 backstroke with Neil Wachtler winning in 47.28 and Patrick Groters placing 2nd in 48.26. That’s Wacthler’s 2nd-straight title in the event; he’s also the defending champion in the 200 back, which he’ll race on Saturday.

In the evening’s lone diving event, South Dakota State took a 1-2 finish with freshman Zach Boyd winning over senior teammate Mitch Raihle. On Wednesday, Raihle won the men’s 3-meter event. There is no platform diving at the Summit League Championships.

Summit League Friday – Women’s Recap

Team Scores, after Day 3

  1. Denver – 742.5
  2. South Dakota – 401
  3. South Dakota State – 376.5
  4. Omaha – 321
  5. Eastern Illinois – 165
  6. Western Illinois – 122.5

The Denver women started the day the same way their men did: with a dominating performance in the 400 medley relay. The team of Natalie Arky, Brandi Vu, Kylie Cronin, and Josiane Valette combined for a 3:37.92. That beat out South Dakota’s 2nd-place relay of 3:48.51 and South Dakota State’s 3rd-place relay of 3:48.57.

A second expressions of Denver’s dominance came in the 200 free, where the Pioneers went 1-2-3-4-5-7 in the A final (as well as 9th and 10th in the B final), led by junior Alysia Leckie in 1:49.54. That’s her 3rd-straight conference title in the event, albeit in a time 2 seconds slower than she swam last year. Josiane Valette wasn’t far behind in 2nd in 1:49.72.

The Pioneers had another dominant win in the 100 backstroke from the freshman Arky, who previously in the night led off the 400 medley relay. She swam 54.37, beating out South Dakota’s runner-up Sabrina Sabadeanu, who was 2nd in 57.00. As compared to the team’s depth in the 200 free, Arky was the team’s only scoring entrant in the 100 back.

But not all races were dominance for Denver on the night. In the 100 breaststroke, Omaha freshman Caroline Gardner came close to ending Denver’s unbeaten streak, swimming a 1:02.90, but a fast final 25 yards from Denver sophomore Brandi Vu was enough to hold on for the win in 1:02.23.

For Gardner, that’s a lifetime best, her first since 2018, in the event. Vu has been half-a-second faster.

The other individual event, the women’s 400 IM, saw 3 Denver Pioneers finish in the top 4, led by junior Uma Knaven in 4:21.43. The lone interloper was South Dakota State freshman Alyssa Eckstein, who took 2nd in 4:23.52.

Eckstein’s evolution in this event throughout the season indicates that she might be the one to end Denver’s run, even if it has to wait until next year. Her best time entering her collegiate career was a 4:32.89, done in 2016 when she was only 14 years old. Mid-season she improved that to 4:27, and now has cut another three-and-a-half seconds off her personal best.



  • Women’s 400 Yard IM – Uma Knaven, Denver (4:21.43)
  • Men’s 400 Yard IM – Trent Panzera, Denver (3:54.74)
  • Women’s 200 Yard Freestyle – Aysia Leckie, Denver (1:49.54)
  • Men’s 200 Yard Freestyle – Hugo Sykes, Denver (1:36.67)
  • Women’s 100 Yard Breaststroke – Brandi Vu, Denver (1:02.23)
  • Men’s 100 Yard Breaststroke – Adriel Sanes, Denver (52.32) *
  • Women’s 100 Yard Backstroke – Natalie Arky, Denver (54.37)
  • Men’s 100 Yard Backstroke – Neil Wachtler, Denver (47.28)


  • Women’s 400 Yard Medley Relay – Denver (3:37.92)
  • Men’s 400 Yard Medley Relay – Denver (3:07.93) *


  • Men’s 1-meter – Zach Boyd, South Dakota State (315.60)

*Summit League Championship meet record

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2 years ago

Why don’t teams like Denver seek leagues with higher level competition?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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