COLLEGE STATION, Texas, October 18. WITH an intensity that could arguably mirror the football teams, the women’s swim teams at Texas and Texas A&M have enjoyed a heated rivalry for decades that has not let up with the A&M Aggies moving to the Southeastern Conference. With the two teams not racing each other as the Aggies adjusted to a new conference, the anticipation was high for today’s competition in College Station that had many members of the swimming and diving alumni in attendance to also raise funds to “Beat the Hell Outta Cancer.”
After an Aggie victory in the 200 medley relay, Texas took the lead in the competition with three straight wins. The most exciting individual race of the day was the 1000 freestyle, with Texas’ Kaitlin Pawlowicz and Texas A&M’s Cammile Adams never more than five tenths apart for nearly 10 minutes. It was Pawlowicz who got the close win, 9:50.89 to 9:50.92.
Sam Tucker’s win in the 200 free with a 1:47.95 kept the Longhorns in front, and the 1-2 finish by Texas in the 100 back kept them in the lead. Lily Moldenhauer posted a 53.48 over Tasija Karosas’ 54.28 to give the Longhorns much-needed points before the Aggies would step up in two of their top events.
NCAA champion Breeja Larson stepped up in a big way in the 100 breast, winning as expected with a 59.23. That’s the first swim under 1:00 this season for Larson, who started out in similar fashion last year on her way to rewriting the breaststroke record books at the mid-season taper meet. Fellow Aggie NCAA champion Adams shook off the 1000 free loss to cruise through the 200 fly and win with a 2:00.32.
Erica Dittmer’s win in the 50 free with a 22.92 helped extend the Aggie lead that would slowly diminish after the 100 free and 200 back.
Aggie Sammie Bosma won the 100 free with a 50.03, but Texas came back and took the points lead with a 1-2 finish in the 200 back. Karosas and Moldenhauer swapped places in the 200 back, with Karosas winning in 1:57.36 and Moldenhauer earning runner-up points with a 1:58.xx.
Larson led a 1-2 finish for the Aggies with a blowout victory in the 200 breast with a 2:10.22. It’s the best 200 breast of the season by far, an honor that had gone to Melanie Margalis’ 2:13.70 from three weeks ago. Ashley McGregor was second for the Aggies with a 2:15.78 over Madisyn Cox of Texas, who posted a 2:15.91.
Adams and Pawlowicz renewed their great battle from the 1000 freestyle, with the placings reversed in the 500 free. Adams held the lead the entire way and touched first with a 4:52.07 to Pawlowicz’s 4:52.51.
With the Longhorns leading by four points after the 1-meter diving event (won by Texas’ Meghan Houston), points were crucial in the final two events. Madisyn Cox of Texas and Dittmer of A&M battled in the 200 IM, with Cox taking the win by a fingernail, 2:00.78 to 2:01.13. Breeja Larson helped A&M’s scoring with a third-place 2:03.84.
Texas led by five points going into the final event, the 400 free relay. In a close battle not only for first and second, but for third and fourth in the event, it was the Aggies who took the win with a 3:20.57. Texas’ “A” team took second with a 3:21.79. If the Aggies got third, the win was secured. If Texas got third, the meet would end in a tie.
Thanks to a strong anchor leg by Kelli Benjamin, Texas A&M took the much-needed third-place points in the relay to earn the meet victory, 152-148.
Both teams had notable absences that could have turned the tides for each squad. Sarah Denninghoff, who will swim at the Duel in the Pool, did not race today for the Longhorns, nor did A&M’s Sarah Henry, also prepping for competition at the Duel in the Pool in Scotland.