The East Carolina men’s and SMU women’s swimming and diving teams defended their titles as the two teams captured the 2016 American Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships at the Campus & Wellness Recreation Center Natatorium on the campus of the University of Houston.
The women’s six-team standings were close heading into the final day of competition with SMU coming out on top after 42 events with a score of 681. Tulane followed in second place (637.5), while Houston (554), Cincinnati (536), East Carolina (515.5) and UConn (457) rounded out the standings. Mustangs’ Steve Collins repeated as The American Swimming Coach of the Year, while John Bransfield of UConn and Bob Gunter of Houston were named Co-Diving Coaches of the Year.
East Carolina finished atop the men’s standings with a final score of 907 points after four days of competition. SMU took runner-up with 828.5 points, followed by Cincinnati (680.5) and UConn (645). Pirates’ Rick Kobe was voted as the Swimming Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year, while Ryan Hunt earned the Diving Coach of the Year.
Cincinnati junior Jacqueline Keire repeated as the women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Year after she won three individual events and swam on three second-place relay teams. On the final day of competition, Keire earned her third individual win of the meet with a victory in the women’s 100 freestyle and helped the Bearcats take silver in the final relay of the meet.
The men’s Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Year award went to SMU’s Sam Straughan. The senior won three individual golds and swam on two first-place relay teams. Straughan won his third individual event with a victory in the men’s 200 fly and helped the Mustangs 400 freestyle relay team take the top spot of the podium on the final day of the American Championships.
Bryce Klein of SMU was selected as the men’s Most Outstanding Diver of the Year. Klein turned in first-place performances in the 1-meter and 3-meter, and added a bronze medal in the platform. The women’s Most Outstanding Diver of the Year went to Houston senior Danielle Shedd. The senior took home the gold in the 1-meter and the bronze medal in the 3-meter.
New championship meet records were set in the 1,650 freestyle events on Day 4 of competition. Tulane freshman Natalie Clausen, who took silver in the 500 free earlier in the week, defeated the field in the women’s 1,650 free to begin the final day of competition. Clausen completed the event with a first-place time of 16:30.28, surpassing the previous championship meet record by five-plus seconds. Cincinnati sophomore Sara Wanasek placed second with a time of 16:32.42, followed by Houston freshman Hannah Herbst (16:32.45). Four of the top five finishers in the event were freshman. In the men’s race, Cincinnati sophomore Chris Bready defended his title and set a new meet record with a time of 15:10.58. Bready finished ahead of the rest of field by over 10 seconds to capture the gold.
Houston freshman Eleanna Koutsouveli completed the sweep of the women’s backstroke events with a gold-medal performance in the 200 back. Koutsouveli (1:56.15) and UConn freshman Annika Grewal (1:57.32) challenged one another all race with the advantage going to the Cougar rookie. East Carolina went one-two on the men’s side as junior Fran Krznaric turned in the top time of 1:43.24, followed by teammate Boleck De Pawlikowski (1:43.86).
The Mustangs captured the top two spots on the podium in the men’s 100 freestyle. Ziga Cerkovnik (44.25) and Christian Scherubl (44.29) grabbed first and second, while UConn’s James Donlevy (44.61) rounded out the podium.
In the women’s 200 breaststroke, East Carolina sophomore Vendela Norrman edged out the field with a time of 2:12.04. Norrman was able to out-touch SMU junior Tara Nicholas, who covered the distance in 2:12.51. In the men’s 200, Pirates junior Will Hicks (1:57.25) lead from the start to record the breaststroke sweep. Hicks also earned 20 points for East Carolina last night with a win the 100 breaststroke.
Marne Erasmus (1:58.26) and Anna Cheesbrough (1:58.38) of SMU placed first and second in the women’s 200 butterfly. Erasmus registered the sweep in the butterfly as she won the 100 fly on Friday evening.
In the women’s platform, Houston junior Taylor Olanski produced the top score for the third straight year. Olanski combined for a final score of 237.65. Following her in the standings was Cincinnati’s Ellen Posch and Tulane’s Lauren Arnold with scores of 223.05 and 210.55. Louie Hunt of Cincinnati won the men’s platform on his final dive for a top score of 259.30. SMU’s Dan Pitts followed in second (253.40), while teammate Bryce Klein took third (253.15).
SMU swept the 400 freestyle relay events on Day 4. The Mustangs swam to a victory in the women’s 400 freestyle relay to seal a sweep of the relay events at the championship meet. SMU’s Vicky Cunningham edged Keire by seven-hundredths of a second to earn the gold. SMU finished with a time of 3:19.75, while the Bearcats posted a time of 3:19.82. On the men’s side, the Mustangs earned the victory with a time of 2:56.31, followed by East Carolina (2:57.89) in second.
AAC contributed this report.
2016 American Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships
Campus Recreation & Wellness Center Natatorium • Houston, Texas
Feb. 17-20, 2016
Final Women’s Scores
1. SMU 681
2. Tulane 637.5
3. Houston 554
4. Cincinnati 536
5. East Carolina 515.5
6. UConn 457
Final Men’s Scores
1. East Carolina 907
2. SMU 828.5
3. Cincinnati 680.5
4. UConn 645