By Maggie Franke
Over the weekend, the Wheaton Men’s and Women’s Swim and Dive teams competed in the CCIW Conference Championship Swimming Meet. The men’s team finished in second place and, the women finished in third place.
On the first day of the meet, both of the two relay events, the 200-yard freestyle and 400-medley, resulted in second place finishes for the Thunder. Sophomore Will Rinne won the 200-yard individual medley (IM) with an NCAA selectable time and meet record of 1:50.23, currently the 11th fastest time in Division III this year.
Wheaton had six other athletes finish in the top eight in their respective events: a third place tie for freshman Ethan Kile in the 200 IM, eighth place finish for freshman Ben Griffith in the 200 IM, a third place finish for freshman Jonathan Schofield in the 500-yard freestyle, sixth place in the 500-yard freestyle for senior Connor Perry, fourth place in the 50-yard freestyle for Christian Cameron and a seventh place finish in the 50-yard freestyle for Daniel Deysher.
The women also had some strong swims on the first day of competition. Wheaton finished second in the 400-yard medley relay and third in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Senior Brooke Barnes started off her final CCIW Championship meet with an individual title and NCAA selectable time of 23.32 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle, the ninth fastest time in Division III this year. Junior Ashley Bowen also finished in the top eight on Thursday in the 500-yard freestyle with a third place finish and lifetime best in the event.
On the second day of competition, Wheaton showed vast improvement from their first day. Rinne continued to stand out as one of the conference’s top all-time talents as he broke the 1:40-barrier in the 200-yard freestyle for the first time in CCIW history. His 1:39.18 gave him an individual conference title and the 13th fastest time in DIII this year. Szymczak finished second in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 49.67, an NCAA B-cut. Griffith was the runner-up in the 400-yard individual medley, finishing with a time of 4:09.24. Cameron finished second in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 50.52 seconds.
Wheaton had nine other individual top-eight finishes on the second day: fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle for junior Micah Kimel, seventh overall in the same event for Deysher, eighth in the 200-yard freestyle for senior Stephen Larson, seventh in the 100-yard back for Schofield, third in the 400-yard IM for junior Logan McDaniel, fourth in the 400-yard IM for Perry, fourth in the 100-yard butterfly for Szymczak, sixth in the 100-yard butterfly for senior Matthew Rueger and third in the 100-yard breaststroke for Ethan Kile.
In the relay events, Wheaton finished second in the 200-yard medley relay just shy of an NCAA B-cut, but the highlight of that relay was Rinne’s sub-twenty split of 19.76. The Thunder’s 800-yard freestyle wrapped-up a strong night, giving them a second place finish.
The Wheaton Women’s Swim team moved up in the team scoring event on Friday propelled by strong performances by Barnes and junior Michaela Sandeno. Barnes competed in the 200-yard freestyle, the event in which she qualified for the national meet last year, and won with an NCAA selectable time of 1:51.31. With a slightly faster time from her Wheaton Invitational performance, Barnes is currently ranked 19th in DIII.
Sandeno swam one of the most thrilling races of the weekend with her 100-yard breaststroke swim when she touched out the Carroll swimmer in the lane next to her by one one-hundredth of a second to win the event. Wheaton had six other individual finishes in the top eight on Friday night, including Bowen’s eighth place finish in the 200-yard event, freshman Priscilla Min’s fifth place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke, sophomore Kiki Rogers’ seventh place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke, freshman Abby Rutledge’s runner-up finish in the 100-yard butterfly and junior Aleah Perkins’ eighth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke.
Wheaton also had two relays on Friday night. The Thunder finished fourth in a close race during the 200-yard medley relay when they finished just 0.21 seconds out of second place. In the 800-yard freestyle relay, Wheaton finished second to Illinois Wesleyan University.
Saturday was the strongest day for both teams.Rinne won his third event of the meet with a 100-yard freestyle time of 45.76 seconds, and Szymczak completed a four-year sweep of the 200-yard backstroke event with an NCAA selectable time and meet record of 1:47.98. Szymczak is the fourth person since 1990 to win the event four years in a row.
Wheaton finished second in the 400-yard freestyle relay in a close race that came down to the finish. Carthage edged out Wheaton’s Rinne, but the Thunder’s Szymczak, Cameron, Deysher and Rinne swam an NCAA selectable time of 3:03.00. Wheaton had nine other swimmers place in the top eight individually on the final night of the meet as well. In the 200-yard butterfly, freshman Gavin Patton, sophomore Joe Kim, senior Matthew Rueger and senior Ben Mendez finished fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth respectively. In the 1650-yard freestyle Wheaton also had four finishers in the top eight: McDaniel (third), Patton (fourth), Schofield (fifth) and Perry (seventh).
The Wheaton Women’s team finished their conference meet with excitement. Sandeno swept the two breaststroke events with a 2:24.67 in the 200-yard breaststroke which earned her another individual title. Barnes swept the final event of the sprint freestyle trio with a victory in the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 51.14, currently the 17th fastest time of the year. Rutledge was the runner-up in the 200-yard butterfly and fourth in the 200-yard backstroke while Bowen finished third in the 1650-yard freestyle.
Min and Rogers finished fifth and eighth in the 200-yard breaststroke.
To conclude their competition, Wheaton’s 400-yard freestyle relay raced IWU’s relay neck-and-neck, down to the wire. IWU touched out the Wheaton relay by one-hundredth of a second, but both teams went NCAA selectable times.
Barnes and Rinne were both awarded the honors of Most Valuable Swimmer in the meet, and Wheaton had eleven swimmers receive All-Conference honors: Barnes, Sandeno, Bowen, Rutledge, Rinne, Schofield, McDaniel, Szymczak, Kile, Cameron and Griffith.
All athletes and relays with NCAA selectable times will find out whether or not they will attend the NCAA Division III Swimming Championship Meet in Greensboro, N.C. by the end of the week.