SAN ANTONIO, Texas, December 17. GRAND Canyon University and University of the Incarnate Word, two teams in the first of a four-year transition into the NCAA Division I ranks, are doing battle in the Lone Star State in a three-day dual meet billed as the UIW Christmas Invite.
After one day of competition, the GCU men and women are leading in the point totals by a significant margin over Incarnate Word. The Grand Canyon women won five events Monday night (including one tie), while the GCU men also took all five races to start competition.
Perhaps the top swim of the opening day came in the prelims of the men’s 50 freestyle, when two Grand Canyon men broke the 20-second barrier. Illya Glazunov posted a 19.95 over Michael Branning’s 19.98. For Glazunov, it was a lifetime best as he makes his short course yards racing debut this season after coming from the Ukraine. Branning fell a little off his lifetime best of 19.81, which he swam on the way to winning the Division II title last March. In the final, Glazunov won with a 19.99, while Branning was second with a 20.00. Marcus Schlesinger, a postgrad training with the GCU team after placing second to Branning last season in the 50 free with a 19.84, was third with a 20.10. Notably, Schlesinger posted a 19.94 at USA Swimming nationals about a week ago.
Glazunov was part of both winning relays on day one, putting up a fast 42.85 freestyle split in helping Grand Canyon win the 400 medley relay with a 3:14.36. Iegor Lytvenok (back: 48.61), Aslan Burbayev (breast: 55.53) and Ivan Nechunaev (fly: 47.37) also swam on the relay. They had a close battle with Incarnate Word, who was second with a 3:14.82. A 52.87 breaststroke split from Thiago Parravicini helped the Cardinals take the lead after breaststroke, but Alex Brouwer’s 44.30 freestyle was not enough to hold off Glazunov. Also on the Incarnate Word relay were backstroker Alexei Nikishenko (50.17) and butterflyer Daniel Torres (47.48).
Grand Canyon had an easier time in winning the men’s 200 free relay with a 1:19.31. That time puts the Lopes in the top 15 in Division I ranks. Glazunov only managed a 20.25 leadoff leg, but Alex Dmitriyenko (19.69), Tanner Brotherton (20.04) and Branning (19.33) made up the slack. Incarnate Word was second with a 1:21.06.
The other wins for the Grand Canyon men on Monday came in the 200 IM by way of Lytvenok’s 1:45.85, and in the 500 free by Stanislav Saiko’s 4:27.05.
On the women’s side, Incarnate Word celebrated a win in the 500 free by Molly Freeman, though she had to share it with GCU’s Samantha Magnani, as both posted times of 4:58.85. The busiest swimmer of the finals session likely was Incarnate Word’s Lana Nguyen, who swam two individual events and two relays. She was on the runner-up 200 free relay and 400 medley relay, placed third in the 200 IM (2:08.22) and second in the 50 free (23.43).
GCU won the women’s 200 free relay with a 1:33.29 and took the 400 medley relay with a 3:47.96, beating Incarnate Word by almost 10 seconds.
Hannah Kastigar won the 200 IM with a 2:00.99, just off her lifetime best of 2:00.66. Jovanna Koens was the other Lopes winner of the night, taking the 50 free in 23.38.