Liberty and FGCU Tie for CCSA Women’s Crown, Halmai Clocks 2:08.17 200 Breast


Final Team Standings 

  1. Liberty University/Florida Gulf Coast– 1748.5
  2. University of Incarnate Word – 1281
  3. North Carolina Asheville – 1012.5
  4. Campbell University – 996
  5. Georgia Southern University – 823
  6. Gardner-Webb University – 799.5
  7. Bellarmine University – 500

In a shocking turn of events, the 2021 CCSA Women’s Championship ended in a tie. Two-time defending champs Liberty earned a 3rd-straight conference title, although they share this year’s title with the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. FGCU outscored Liberty by 58 points tonight, but ultimately fell a half-point short of singular ownership of the CCSA title.

Liberty’s piece of the title came in large part thanks to a phenomenal effort on the final event, the 400 free relay. FGCU were the favorites in the event, while Liberty was seeded back at 5th, and based off the 200 free relay performance, appeared likely to finish in the middle of the field. On the contrary, Liberty shed 6 seconds from their seed time, moving up 3 spots from the psych sheet to finish 2nd, behind only FGCU. Had Liberty finished any lower in the relay, they would have finished 2nd in the final team standings.

The Eagles won the relay in a final time of 3:20.87, thanks to Tori Czarnecka (49.60), Zuzu Rabiniak (49.77), Joely Merriman (51.10), and Kaja Reinhardt (50.40). Liberty was 2nd in 3:21.75. Czarnecka and Rabiniak had the two fastest splits in the field, and the only swimmers to split under 50 seconds.

Czarnecka and Rabiniak also went 1-2 in the A final of the 100 free. In the individual race, Czarnecka posted a 49.51, with Rabiniak taking 2nd in 50.76. Czarnecka took the race out quickly, splitting 23.57 on the first 50.

Petra Hamlai, who was electric for FGCU at these Champs, made it 3-for-3 and a breaststroke sweep by taking the 200 breast in decisive fashion. Halmai posted a 2:08.17 in the race, winning by well over 5 seconds and establishing a new season best. The time currently ranks Halmai 15th in the NCAA this season, giving her an excellent shot at earning an NCAA qualification in the event. Halmai has a personal best of 2:07.38, which she swam at last year’s CCSAs.

Payton Keiner, who was equally as valuable to Liberty, made it a backstroke sweep on the week with her win the 200 back. Keiner led a stellar 1-2-3 charge in the race, touching in 1:54.73. Emma Hazel came in 2nd with a 1:57.69, while Eva Suggs posted a 3rd-place finish in 1:58.48. Keiner’s time was a bit off her lifetime best, which stands at 1:52.63 from last year’s meet.

Incarnate Word’s Ximena Conde Merlos won the 1650 free in epic-fashion, running down FGCU’s Michaela Sizemore on the final 50 to edge her out at the finish. Merlos flipped at the 1600 mark in 16:21.14, a little over half a second behind Sizemore (16:20.55). Merlos then turned on the jets, bringing the race home with a 27.27 on the last 50, well under Sizemore’s 28.15. Merlos got her hand on the wall for a 16:48.41, just slightly ahead of Sizemore’s 16:48.70. Despite the mile being the longest race on the schedule for tonight by an order of magnitude, it actually ended up being the tightest race of the night.

Liberty picked up another win in the 200 fly, where Lindsey Cohee touched in 1:58.87 as the only swimmer in the field to crack 2:00. Cohee was in control of the race from start ot finish, posting the fastest split in the field on each 50, except for the 3rd.

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A spider
1 year ago

If only liberty had francis scoring

1 year ago

This is what I am talking about Coach Jake. Keep up the great recruiting and keep the conference titles piling up and soon we will have a Natty in the Flames Trophy Case