By Laura Carr, Assistant Sports Editor
After a weekend off from competition due to bad weather conditions, the Big Red women’s swim and dive team returned to competition for Senior Day on Feb. 1 at the Trumbull Aquatics Center and defeated Ohio Wesleyan 156-64 in their final dual meet.
Eight Denison swimmers won their respective events. Junior Molly Willingham swam to victory in the 100 -yard backs- troke and 100-yard freestyle event with times of 57.12 seconds and 51.94 seconds, respectively. Both of Willingham’s times gave her the B-standard for the NCAA Division III National Championships. Johns clocked 1:56.59 in the 200-yard freestyle and 5:07.99 in the 500-yard freestyle to come away with two more wins for the Big Red. Freshmen Carolyn Kane and Campbell Costley turned in a pair of freestyle wins for Denison. Kane posted a time of 23.98 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle while Costley recorded a time of 10:32.43 in the 1,000-yard freestyle.
“I think the team is swimming fast,” Kane said. “A lot of people got close to their best times and swam strategically as well. Everyone was pretty energized.”
Kane is currently ranked top three in the country in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle events. The freshman also sits atop the North Coast Athletic Conference standings in those events.
Senior Natalie Lugg and sophomore Marissa Bednarek swept the breaststroke events. Lugg won the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:05.96 while Bednarek recorded a time of 2:26.79 to take the win in the 200-yard breaststroke. Lugg’s time in the 100-yard breaststroke was good enough to give her the national championships B-standard. Junior Michelle Howell and sophomore Libby Dalziel took the final two event titles for the Big Red with Howell’s time of 2:10.28 in the 200-yard fly and Dalziel’s win in the 200-yard backstroke. Dalziel posted a time of 2:07.06 in her race.
“It is impressive to record any personal bests during a dual meet because without shaving and tapering it’s hard to reach where you were at your peak the season before,” freshman male swimmer Seth Biel said. “It was great to see Rima do so well after working with her in sprint group this season.” Junior Rima Jurjus recorded multiple personal bests at the meet.
Kane agreed with Biel, adding that “Rima Jurjus swam really fast and she’s been looking really good these last two weeks. She went her best times or close to her best times in multiple races.”
The meet was the final dual meet for the Big Red seniors. “It was definitely a bittersweet meet,” senior Morgan Nuess said. “The underclassmen made the senior meet very special for all of us: all the advertising of the meet throughout the week, the homemade posters on deck and all their love and support they showed us made our last dual meet one of the best. It’s hard to think that it’s almost over so I’m trying not to concentrate on that aspect, but rather concentrate on how I can swim my best at conference.”
Sophomore Ashley Yearwood praised the seniors for their hard work and effort as members of the women’s swim and dive team. “We love our seniors. They have been a part of great past teams, and I am having a hard time thinking about our teams without them,” Yearwood said. “They have done so much for us during their time at Denison, and the senior meet is a tribute to them. “In terms of inspiration, I think our entire team can attest to the fact that we needed to swim fast yesterday for them [the seniors]. The seniors deserved to have a great last dual meet at Denison.”
The team looks to continue their successes going forward. “Coach Gregg [Parini] said yesterday that the meet comes too early in the season because the season isn’t done yet,” Yearwood said, “and there is a lot to look forward to in the rest of the season.”
The Big Red swim and dive team will host the NCAC championship on Feb. 12 at the Trumbull Aquatics Center.