Swim and dive tops Washington State for first time in 16 years
Some people say home is where the heart is, but for the NAU swimming and diving teams, home is where the win is.
The Lumberjacks hosted their final home meet of the season against the Washington State Cougars on Monday, at the Wall Aquatic Center, taking the meet 161–133 and improving to 5–1 over-all for the season.
Though the Cougars are from the Pac-12, which currently has six teams sitting in the top-25, the Jacks stepped it up. They swam side-by-side, with only half a second separating the wins and loses at many of the meet’s events.
“The girls were swimming faster than they ever swam up here throughout their careers,” said head coach Andy Johns. “That’s swimming — when it’s one-one hundredth of a second — it doesn’t get any better than that and at the end [of a race] there is energy and excitement and the [ final score] is coming down to the last relay . . . that is fun. They were a tough team, and it was a nice win.”
The ladies traveled to Colorado the week prior, where they picked up their first loss and spent the days leading up to the Washington meet practicing hard and building up to race their best.
Sophomore Rachel Palmer was the only swimmer to win two events, finishing the 200 butterfly at 2:20.80 and the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:24.43.
“We kind of changed it up a bit this [past] week,” Palmer said. “We had to recover on Monday and get rid of all the travel, and then we slowly built up throughout the week and even came in on Sunday to make sure we were ready to go today — I think our [hard work] showed we were ready to go.”
Senior Krista Maier grabbed the first win of the meet in the 800 freestyle finishing at 9:19.08, three seconds faster than senior Kristin Jones, who finished second at 9:22.06 and took first at the 400 freestyle at 4:31.15.
Sophomore Jordan Burnes finished the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:13.99, .24 of a second behind first place and set a personal record.
“I swam the fastest I’ve ever [swam] up here,” Burnes said. “Last year they [Cougars] actually beat us by a lot, so this year we stepped up a lot and gave them a round for their money . . . which is really good.”
Both teams broke the pool record in the 400 freestyle relay. The Jacks finished the relay second at 3:56.20, only .19 of a second faster than their previous pool record back in 2010, and the Cougars finished in 3:54.80.
Despite a back injury, junior Fi Connell took top honors in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:04.14, beating Washington State’s sophomore Emma Johansson, who finished .05 of a second after Connell.
“It was just a great back-and-forth battle,” Johns said. “I’m really proud of the way our girls fought through some adversity — Fi Connell is injured and she still pulled out a win and that was big.”
Freshman diver Katie Dallmann placed first in the 3-meter event with a score of 205.60. Sophomore Jane Wakefield took first at the 1-meter event with a score of 179.80, putting the scoreboard in favor of the Jacks.
The meet marked the first time Johns has lead the team to a 5-1 start to the season and the first time beating Washington in his 16 years of coaching.
“We would have loved to have won the swimming portion outright,” Johns said. “This is a swimming and diving meet and we’re really proud of our divers. Winning the meet against a Pac-12 team is tremendous; I am really proud of all the girls and excited about the season.”