Capping off the season, Marshall University’s swim and dive finished fourth place at the Conference USA Championship in Atlanta, Georgia this past week with three school records, 21 top ten finishes and 39 life best performances.
“I thought we did great,” Head Coach Ian Walsh said. “Coming into this year, we had a smaller roster and one of our team goals was trying to get third. We are walking away basically in the same position as last year. Being able to do that with a small group was a lot of fun as a coach, and I think we walked away with a lot of positive things.”
Marshall had a total of 365.50 points to wrap up the four-day Conference Championship Feb. 22-26.
Senior Catherine Bendziewicz finished in second place out of eight swimmers in the Women’s 200 IM with the time of 2.00.47 seconds.
In the Women 50 Yard Free junior Darby Coles finished in fourth place out of 24 swimmers with a final time of 22.83 seconds.
“Individually I went all my best times and placed higher than I ever have,” Coles said. “It is always fun to swim fast for my team and overall it was a really good meet.”
In the Women 3 Meter Diving, senior Madison Young came in twelfth place with the score of 238.95, followed by freshman Lauren Henderson who finished in thirteenth place with the score of 233.70.
“I definitely could not have done this without the rest of my teammates’ support,” Henderson said. “I learned to be more confident in myself in this meet and I believe taking that to further meets will definitely help me perform better.”
In the Women 200 Yard Free Relay Coles, Bendziewicz, senior Hannah Robins and senior Jordyn O’Dell all finished in third place out of ten teams with a time of 1.34.94.
In the Women 100 Yard Fly, Robins placed fifth with a time of 54.27 and freshman Nicole Rueff finished in 12th place out of 24 swimmers with a time of 55.94.
For the Women 200 Yard Free, two swimmers finished in the top ten, including Coles, Bendziewicz and sophomore Regan Raines. Coles placed sixth with the time of 1.48.47, Bendziewicz finished in seventh place with 1.49.50 and Raines finished in 15th place out of 23 swimmers with the time of 1.52.64.
In the Women 1 Meter Diving event, Henderson came back with a top ten finish, placing seventh with the score of 264.70. Henderson was followed by Young who came in 12th place with the score of 244.40 out of 16 divers.
For the relay event in the 400 Women Medley, O’Dell, Bendziewicz, Robins and Coles finished in second place with the time of 1.02.35 seconds out of seven teams.
“The relays were so much fun,” Coles said. “I love getting up there with my teammates and really racing for each other. I feel like we always surprise people with our relays, and we know how to show up for them.”
Two swimmers placed top ten finishes in the Women 100 Yard Back. O’Dell finished in third place with the time of 52.30 out of 24 swimmers and junior Heather Sigmon came in 10th place with the time of 55.59. Freshman Or Tamir finished in 16th place with the time 56.55 seconds.
Senior Angelica Di Marzio came in a top ten finish in the Women 1650 Yard Free placing seventh out of 18 swimmers with the time of 17.13.52.
In the Women Platform Diving, Young was the only diver to compete in the event. Young finished in 11th place with the score 195.45.
Three swimmers finished in the top ten in the Women 200 Yard Back. In second place was O’Dell with the time of 1.58.65. Following O’Dell was Sigmon coming in ninth place with the time of 2.00.22. Finishing in tenth place was Tamir with a time of 2.03.21 seconds out of 24 swimmers.
Two more swimmers finished top ten in the Women 100 Yard Free. In third place was Coles with 49.44 seconds and in eighth place was Bendziewicz with the time of 50.50.
In the Women 200 Yard Fly, Rueff finished in 10th place with a time of 2.00.55 seconds.
Lastly, Marshall finished third place in the Women 400 Yard Free Relay with the time of 3.22.96 seconds. Coles, Bendziewicz, Raines and O’Dell all competed in the relay out of nine teams.
“My team and I have had to work through a lot of adversity during my four years here,” O’Dell said. “I learned how it’s alright to lean on my teammates and know that they will always be there no matter what.”
Florida International University won Conference USA Championship. This is their sixth straight conference win in a row. FIU set a new record winning the most conferences in a row. The team finished with a total of 1044.50 points.
After the Conference USA Championship, three seniors and two juniors qualified for the CSCAA National Invitational Championship March 12-14. The five swimmers competing in the event are Sigmon, O’Dell, Robins, Coles and Bendziewicz.
“This is a really small window,” Walsh said. “The swimmers have 13 days to compete in the NIC’s after competing in conference. For the training aspects, we will be sharpening some things up.”
For the divers, Young and Henderson qualified to compete at NCAA Zone A at West Virginia University on March 10.
“It is more details now,” Walsh said. “They are in the best shape they have ever been in. So for the next week, we will try to fix some details and errors that there may have been at conference.”
Stormy Randazzo can be contacted at [email protected]