By Caitlin Daday, Swimming World College Intern
The Atlantic 10 Conference championships kick off this Wednesday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The Richmond women and Massachusetts men return as last year’s team champions. The entire meet should be exciting, but here are five specific races you should watch:
1. Men’s 500 Freestyle
The men’s 500 freestyle should prove to be a great race between George Mason’s freshman Attila Kiss and St. Louis junior, Ryan McCoy. McCoy was last year’s runner-up, finishing with an NCAA B cut of 4:24.84. Kiss and McCoy are seeded just .02 apart–a narrow margin for a 500. Kiss and McCoy are nearly four seconds ahead of the next closest seed, Fordham freshman Joseph Vizza. Vizza, however, has been 4:27 in this race before, and could also be a contender. Accordingly, this race should be exciting from start to finish.
2. Women’s 100 Butterfly
The women’s 100 butterfly should prove to be a close race as well, this time between two seniors in one of their last conference races ever. Sydney Fisher from George Mason and Elise Lankiewicz from Davidson have both been sub-54 this season and are each over a second faster than third seed Mia Bullock. Fisher holds the conference record of 53.18, which she set in November. She was last year’s runner-up. Lankiewicz, on the other hand, has never lost an individual race at these championships since Davidson joined the A-10 her sophomore year. Should she choose to swim this race–she is the top seed in the 500, the 200 free, the 100 back, and the mile as well–the race will be a tight battle between her and Fisher.
3. Women’s 100 Breaststroke
The women’s 100 breaststroke is one to watch because it is really anyone’s race. The top two seeds belong to Alyssa Levac and Maria Rocchi, two juniors at St. Bonaventure. At last year’s conference championships, Rocchi did not even make finals, placing 18th in prelims. Levac did not even compete in this race. Further, even though last year’s top three finishers all returned, only one of them is seeded in the top eight going into this year’s meet. As such, anybody can be the darkhorse and win this race.
4. Men’s 1650 Freestyle
While distance freestyle is not always everyone’s favorite to watch, on the men’s side of the meet, these are looking to be some of the most competitive races. This year’s top seed in the men’s mile is Liam Semple, a junior from Fordham. Right behind him is his freshman teammate, Chris Sleutjes. The two Fordham swimmers are separated by a mere second, and the race should be a close battle between the two. However, third seed Mattias Glenesk, a LaSalle senior, cannot be ignored. At last year’s meet, Glenesk placed second. There, he swam a time of 15:27.00, which is a good 13 seconds faster than Semple or Sleutjes has ever been. George Mason’s Kiss and George Washington’s Shawn Lemarie, both competing at their first conference championship, are seeded fourth and fifth and cannot be counted out either. For anyone who loves a good distance race, this one looks to be exciting.
5. Women’s 200 Backstroke
Freshmen are leading the way going into the women’s 200 backstroke. Top two seeds Cat Alabanza and Hannah Gouger, freshmen from Fordham and Richmond, respectively, are separated by only .06, so this race could come down to the touch. But a series of upperclassmen close behind them cannot be left out. Rhode Island senior Lauren Folkert is less than half a second behind Alabanza and Gouger, and last year’s winner, Duquesne junior Lexi Santer, currently sits at eighth. Last year’s second and third place finishers, Hannah Verrette and Steff Maurer are in the mix as well. As such, the freshmen are on top now, but the real test will be if they can hold up against the more experienced in the last session of the meet.