CORAL GABLES, Florida, January 21. SIX student-athletes from the University of Miami swimming & diving team enjoyed a win in their final home meet on Friday, as the Hurricanes breezed past Florida Atlantic, 197-94, at the Norman A. Whitten University Center Pool.
Miami (7-1) claimed a win in 13-of-16 events (including diving) in the final home meet for seniors Alicia Casillas, Lauren Jacoby (redshirt junior), Ryann Labreche, Deidre Novotny, Annika Saarnak and Brittany Viola.
"This is a sad day for me as this was my first recruiting class leaving, but I'm so glad we were able to send them out with as win," said swimming head coach Christie Shefchunas.
Amid storms surrounding the Coral Gables area – in fact, the meet was suspended for 15 minutes due to lightning, the Hurricanes and Owls performed on the pool and in the diving well in a rain-filled atmosphere throughout.
UM began the day taking first and second in the 200 medley relay, using a winning time of 1:45.44 behind the efforts of Whitney Stephenson (leadoff), Sofia Johansson (second), Annika Saarnak (third) and Kelsi Hall (anchor). That was followed by Christine Anderson earning a win in the 1000 freestyle (10:27.48), as senior Alicia Casillas finished second (10:41.34).
FAU's Jonna Nyback took the win in the 200 free, while UM's Hannah Kling followed in second at 1:54.74, and Lauren Jacoby – who is earning her degree in May and will enter graduate school, touched the wall in third at 1:56.98. Whitney Stephenson claimed the win in the 100 backstroke (56.92) and teammate Roxanne Meyer was third in a time of 59.09.
Sophomore Sofia Johansson claimed the win for the ‘Canes in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.10) and junior Dana Hatic (1:05.51) finished second in the event. Jenna Beyer finished fifth, concluding with a mark of 1:08.25. Haley Nicholson (2:11.17) and Taylor Grenda (2:11.24) turned in second and third place performances, respectively, in the 200 butterfly.
The top three times in the 50 freestyle were swept by the Hurricanes, using the strength of Kelsi Hall to take the win in a mark of 24.22. Kayla Smith was second at 24.59, while third place was collected by Alexis Fee with a time of 24.92. Saarnak took top honors in the 100 free, touching the time pad at 51.77.
Once again, UM was 1-2-3 in the 200 backstroke and 200 breaststroke, with the lead time posted by Stephenson at 2:02.10 in the backstroke. Meyer was second for the ‘Canes at 2:03.41, and Kling was third at 2:05.15. The breaststroke win was scored by Johansson in a time of 2:23.70, with teammates Hatic (2:25.02) and Anderson (2:27.14) following suit.
Senior Ryann Labreche earned a second place finish in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:04.89. Saarnak netted the win in the 100 fly with a performance of 55.87. Jacoby claimed second place in the 100 fly (58.68) and senior Deidre Novotny was third (58.73). Novotny also secured a second place finish (2:08.33) in the 200 Individual Medley.
"You can't really just wrap-up a career like the one Annika [Saarnak] has had here," commented Shefchunas. "She came here raw and not really having a lot of coaching leading into college. Today, I looked at her walking around the pool, and I just noticed how much she's grown and matured here, and how much she's accomplished in just four years. It's really been special to see all of these girls develop and become that much better in this program."
The all-senior relay in the 200 free relay event was a win to conclude the day. The team of Novotny (leadoff), Saarnak (second), Labreche (third) and Jacoby (anchor) turned in a winning mark of 1:38.91. The second place team of Beyer (leadoff), Susan Smiddy (second), Fee (third) and Smith (anchor) touched the wall at 1:39.50.
"The win today gives us momentum heading into ACC's," said Shefchunas. "The girls performed well, and we will use this moving forward. I really think heading into ACC's that we can do some great things."
In the diving well, the storied career of Brittany Viola – 2008 NCAA champion and three-time All-American, came to a close with a second place performance on the 1-meter springboard. She scored 341.18 to earn the silver, while teammate Carrie Dragland collected the gold with a score of 344.40. Dragland also took top honors on the 3-meter board, registering a score of 382.58. FAU's Maegan Butler was second with a total of 276.23.
The Hurricanes will not get back to the water again until traveling to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships on Feb. 16-19, in Atlanta. For more information, please visit TheACC.com.
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