PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, May 25. THE first night of finals is underway at the sixth annual Erik Namesnik Memorial Swim Meet, held at the University of Pittsburgh's Joe C. Trees Pool. The meet honors two-time Olympic silver medalist and former Michigan swimmer Erik Namesnik, who tragically passed away in a car accident in January 2006.
In the first event of the evening, Rachel Butler dominated the women's 100 breast, winning by a second and a half in 1:10.40. Amy Lewis hit the pads second in 1:11.98, followed by Melissa Gates in 1:15.82. All three swimmers represent the Nittany Lion Aquatic Club. James Wilson kept the ball rolling for NLAC, capturing the men's breaststroke crown in 1:04.82. Teammate Chris Cipolla finished second in 1:05.38, followed by Jewish Community Center's Luke Nobisch in 1:07.04.
In the women's 200 free, Jewish Community Center's Leah Smith outlasted the field with a winning time of 2:02.44, ahead of NLAC's Caitlyn Kerr (2:03.69) and Briana Emig (2:05.54), who is competing unattached. Alexander Rodenkirk of Team Pittsburgh Aquatics earned the victory in the men's 200, posting a 1:57.27. Greater Latrobe Aqua Club's Lucas Bureau got to the wall second in 1:58.40, with Upper St. Clair's Ryan Dudzinski (2:01.01) in third.
Paige Whitmire got NLAC back in the winner's circle with her win in the 100 fly (1:01.78), as teammate Katelyn Miller took second in 1:03.79. Brittany Dudzinski of Upper St. Clair rounded out the top three finishers in 1:06.86. Sean Grier made it a sweep for the Nittany Lions with a winning time of 55.48 in the men's 100 fly. Andrew Sideras touched a second back in 56.58, followed by Team Pittsburgh Aquatics' Jon Lierley (56.83).
Briana Emig returned shortly after the 200 free to top the field in the women's 200 IM in 2:21.87. Nittany Lion Amy Modglin touched in 2:23.24 for second, with Chelsea Weedman three seconds back in third (2:26.23). NLAC's Chris Cipolla dominated the men's event, winning by more than seven seconds in 2:08.95. Greater Latrobe's Lucas Bureau collected his second top-two finish of the night with a second-place effort of 2:16.15. Laurel Highlands Regional YMCA's Justin Kostelnik grabbed third in 2:16.79.
Jewish Community Center's Leah Smith captured her second title of the evening in the 800 free, posting a time of 8:38.68, just off her fastest time of this year of 8:34.11, set at the Columbus Grand Prix. Nittany Lions' Claire Singley (9:07.04) finished a distant second, while Fox Chapel's Braelyn Tracy touched in 9:27.30 for third place. Neal Smith, also of Jewish Community Center, took home the men's title in 8:53.46, just ahead of Mount Lebanon's Kyle Higgins (8:54.42) and Drew Damich (8:54.86).