Gabi Albiero, Christiana Regenauer Talk Team Chemistry During Louisville’s Historic Meet

by Riley Overend 1

March 19th, 2023 ACC, College, News


Originally published March 17, 2023

KNOXVILLE — Louisville’s sprint group cooked up some magic this season.

Led by junior Gabi Albiero (21.30) and senior Christiana Regenauer (21.68), the Cardinals put a pair of swimmers in the 50 free A-final for the first time ever while also registering their highest finish in the 200 free relay with a third-place showing at the end of Thursday night’s session in Knoxville. Their previous-best result in the event at the NCAA Championships was a fourth-place finish in 2019.

Albiero lowered her lifetime best to 21.30 in the final, placing third behind Virginia sophomore Gretchen Walsh (20.85) and LSU fifth year Maggie MacNeil (NCAA-record 20.79). Regenauer equaled her time from prelims during her seventh-place finish (21.68), slightly off her personal-best 21.58 from last month’s ACC Championships. Albiero and Regenauer came into this season with best times of 21.69 and 22.10, respectively.

Speaking with SwimSwam between sessions on Friday, Albiero and Regenauer credited Louisville’s team chemistry and new associate head coach Bryon Tansel for their big time drops this year. Tansel was hired last June after five years at Ohio State and one year at LSU, where he worked with the sprint group.

“This is the best team chemistry we’ve ever had,” Regenauer said. “We’re all just focused on doing it for each other, and I think that’s really just helped us go to this next level.”

A typical day training with Louisville’s sprint group involves singing silly songs, joking around, and referring to each other as characters from Harry Potter. Albiero is Goyle, Regenauer is Crab, freshman Julia Dennis is Scabbers, and fellow freshman Ella Welch is Dobby because of how she wears her cap behind her ears.

“I think the biggest thing is that we just have so much fun,” Albiero said. “I don’t do spring group often, but when I do, it’s just a good time. They just are goofy all the time and make jokes that are so strange. But we just have so much fun in practice and I think the saying that happy swimmers are fast swimmers is definitely true.”

It truly took a team effort in the 200 free relay for the Cardinals to capture their first podium finish in program history. They didn’t have anyone throw down a sub-21 split like Virginia (Gretchen Walsh), LSU (Maggie MacNeil), or Stanford (Claire Curzan), but they were the only team without a swinging split above 21.5. Competing at their first NCAA Championships, Louisville rookies Dennis and Welch stepped up on the big stage with splits of 21.39 and 21.49, respectively.

Interestingly, most of Albiero’s training is still geared toward the 200 fly, so she only joins the sprint group once or twice a week. That means it’s mostly Dennis and Welch pushing Regenauer in practice.

“Those two freshmen girls, they’ll be running me down and I’ll be like, ‘I can’t let these freshmen girls beat me,’” Regenauer laughed. “I take a lot of pride in beating them and knowing that they’re pushing me and they’re getting better, too, trying to chase me or whoever’s beating who that day.”

Dennis has taken almost a second off her best 50 free time this season, lowering it from 22.59 to 21.73 during Thursday’s prelims. Welch, who swam with Albiero at Cardinal Aquatics before arriving at Louisville last fall, has shaved about half a second in the 50 free, going from 22.35 to 21.89.

Regenauer is right there with her freshman teammates in terms of time drops, taking .52 seconds off her personal best at ACCS for a third-place finish in what could be her final collegiate season. She always thought she was capable of these times, but this year, she took a page out of Albiero’s book and brought her self-belief to another level.

“Even though she’s younger than me, she’s taught me a lot about swimming,” Regenauer said of Albiero. “She just has this confident air about her, and I think that’s really helped me. I’ve embodied that more this season.

“I knew I was always capable,” Regenauer added. “I don’t know if it was more mental stuff holding me back. I think training with Bryon (Tansel) and having great team chemistry, kind of finally had a breakthrough. I was pleasantly surprised that it actually happened, but I always knew I had it in me.”

Albiero also praised Regenauer for her mentorship over the past three years as well as her calming presence when they take the blocks together for a big race.

“When I first got here as a freshman, she was someone I was really looking up to and following,” Albiero said of Regenauer. “We lost a lot of really strong sprinters that year. Just trying to emulate what she’s done and be there right beside her, it’s so much fun to have all these A-finals together. I think my first one at ACCs, we were right next to each other. So it’s just been really fun to do it with someone who’s so special and a good friend of mine. It definitely wears off some of those nerves right before the race when I see someone who I’m goofing off with everyday.”

Louisville finished fourth in the NCC team standings with 288 points. On Saturday, the Cardinals closed out their meet by putting both Albiero (4th place, 46.80) and Regenauer (7th place, 47.50) in the A-final of the 100 free. They also placed 3rd in the 200 free relay with a 3:09.57. In Friday night’s loaded 100 free final, Albiero blazed a 50.15 to tie for fifth place with Texas junior Emma Sticklen.

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1 year ago

A recent video was publicly posted by Galbiero that showed very poor sportmanship though…

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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