East Carolina Men Defeat Cincinnati, Houston Women Win 4th-Straight AAC Title


On the final night of the 2020 AAC Championships, the East Carolina men came from behind to pull off a 7-point victory over defending champion Cincinnati. The Houston women secured their 4th-straight AAC title.

East Carolina freshman Kristen Stege swam to a new Meet Record in the women’s mile. She took over 3 seconds off the former record set by Sara Wanasek of Cincinnati in 2018, winning the race in 16:11.98. This appears to have been Stege’s first swim in the event based on the USA Swimming database. Tulane freshman Lilly Byrne made a huge drop to take 2nd. Her 16:15.69 was a best by 25 seconds. Teammate Olivia Johnson, the 2019 champion, dropped over 12 seconds to take bronze in 16:18.63.

Houston’s Peyton Kondis picked up a sweep of the breaststrokes. She was just 3 tenths shy of her best as she took the 200 breast title in 2:09.93. That was her 2nd time breaking 2:10. Kondis was tenths away from the Meet Record, which stands at a 2:09.29 done by SMU’s Andrea Podmanikova in 2018. Podmanikova transferred out of the AAC and now swims for NC State.

Teammate Mykenzie Leehy completed the sprint sweep. Leehy, who won the 50 free and took silver in the 200 free, won the 100 free on day 4. She once again went head-to-head with fellow Cougar Zarena Brown after Brown had outpaced her in the 200. This time, Leehy got to the wall first in 48.67, just a hundredth shy of her best. Brown was also just shy of a best as she touched in 48.98 for the silver.

UConn’s William Kearsey picked up his 3rd win of the meet for a sprint sweep on the men’s side. Kearsey, the 50 free and 100 back champion, took over a second off his best, winning the race in 42.64. He later led off the 400 free relay in 42.95, giving him 2 sub-43 swims in one day.

ECU’s Gustavo Santos, who set a Meet Record in the 100 fly, edged out SMU’s Daniel Forndal for silver in the 100 free, 43.45 to 43.47. Teammate Marek Osina made a huge drop in the 200 back, taking 2.5 seconds off his best to win it in 1:43.04. Cincinnati’s Blake Hanna, the 2019 champion, was 2nd in 1:43.49. That was just off his best time, as he’d swum a 1:43.37 in prelims. Osina, a sophomore, has 2 more years to go after the Meet Record, which stands at a 1:41.50 done by Louisville All-American Grigory Tarasevich in 2014.

SMU’s Caleb Rhodenbaugh pushed ahead of ECU’s Jacek Arentewicz on the 3rd 50 of the 200 breast. Arentewicz kicked it into gear on the final 50 to close the gap, but Rhodenbaugh held on to win in 1:54.74 to Arentewicz’s 1:54.93. Rhodenbaugh had never been under 1:55 before this meet, but swam his lifetime best twice as he matched his prelims time to win the final. He also matched Arentewicz’s 2019 winning time down to the hundredth. Both men were narrowly shy of the Meet Record, which Arentewicz set at a 1:54.55 in 2018.

Additional Day 4 Winners

  • Houston’s Ioanna Sacha broke 1:55 for the first time to win the 200 back in 1:54.96. Teammate Laura Laderoute, the 100 back champion, was 2nd in 1:56.26.
  • Cincinnati freshman Noah Smith dropped over 20 seconds to win the mile in 15:03.83. He has 3 more years to go after Chris Bready’s record of 14:54.88. Teammate Tyler Jones dropped 15 seconds for silver in 15:05.71.
  • ECU also got a freshman victory as Adam Mahler put up a lifetime best 1:44.74 in the 200 fly. He out-touched Cincinnati’s Parker Saladin, who repeated as silver medalist in 1:44.97.
  • SMU’s Olivia Grossklaus, the 2019 runner-up, took over a second off her best to win the 200 fly in 1:56.44. She finished ahead of teammate Erin Trahan, the 2019 champion, who touched in 1:57.06.
  • Zarena Brown anchored for Houston’s 400 free relay in 48.66. They won the race in 3:17.39.
  • Gustavo Santos split a 42.68 on the 3rd leg for ECU as they won the men’s race in 2:54.04.


1. Houston, University of 952.5
2. Southern Methodist University 640.5
3. Cincinnati, University of 562
4. East Carolina University 461.5
5. Tulane University 456
6. Connecticut, University of 356.5


1. East Carolina University 845
2. Cincinnati, University of 838
3. Southern Methodist University 763
4. Connecticut, University of 588

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1 year ago

No mention of freshman Adam Mahler’s 200 fly win?

Swim mom
Reply to  Lauren Neidigh
1 year ago

Thanks for the fix! Proud moment for Mahler and Pirate families

1 year ago

Wow! Olivia Johnson of Tulane went 4:07.72 in the 400 IM. Lots of fast swims at this meet.

1 year ago

I thought you had the Pirates coming in 3rd by a wide margin in the swimulator and the experts picks?

Champs Again
1 year ago

Go Coogs! Another impressive conference meet for Houston

1 year ago

You gotta fix this projection thing I thought Cincinnati would beat ecu by 200 points? Well i guess not #purplegold

Reply to  Gears
1 year ago

It’s really weird how mad you guys are after winning a conference championship meet.

We’ve explained it a dozen times. Swimulator isn’t making predictions. It’s scoring a meet based on season-best times. You outperformed your seeds. Good for you. That’s what you set out to do, isn’t it?

1 year ago

Cincinnati celebrated to early, they already had shirts made, uh oh 🙁

AAC Swim
Reply to  Bearcat
1 year ago

Shirts are premade by the conference with no team listed. Cincinnati never assumed they would win the meet; they knew it could come down to the last relay. No celebration took place. Do research and make more accurate observations before you make faulty assumptions next time.

Reply to  AAC Swim
1 year ago

What are you talking about? The parents were basically having a parade celebrating outside the pool before finals started. What happened to the cakes saying conference champs? Feed the hungry.

1 year ago

East Carolina – bringing the comments with the same (lack of) class that they exhibited throughout the meet lol.

Reply to  Arghmateys
1 year ago

Please explain

Reply to  Arghmateys
1 year ago

Excuse me how so?

Adam Mahler
1 year ago

Great job to all the teams including Cincinnati, SMU and UCONN especially. Can’t wait to face off against SMU and Cincinnati again next year and good luck UCONN in your new conference. I’m glad we managed to out-perform expectations! Hope to see y’all in some other meet soon!

Reply to  Adam Mahler
1 year ago

What a clutch 200 fly.

Reply to  Adam Mahler
1 year ago

Finally someone on this team stepping in and showing leadership.

Weird that it had to be a freshman, but leadership knows no age.

Great swimming this week Adam. Good luck with the rest of your ECU career.

Adam Mahler
Reply to  Arghmateys
1 year ago

Let’s try to not fuel a comment war please. I just want to see everyone end this on a high note of a competition that came down to the very last race and showed that all these programs have something great to show out there.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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