SAN ANTONIO, Texas, December 19. Thiago Parravicini continued his breaststroke dominance while Hannah Kastigar and Iegor Lytvenok each won their third individual events as Grand Canyon University and the University of the Incarnate Word closed out the UIW Christmas Invitational.
With both teams in the first year of a four-year transition into the NCAA Division I ranks, the meet served as a barometer of where each team is at this point in the season, and how they stack up among their future Division I rivals. The GCU men won the meet with a score of 1309-1042, while the women were victorious with a score of 1162.5-1006.5.
Parravicini, a former NCAA Division II record holder in the 200 breast, practically swam alone in that event’s final, posting a swift 1:54.72 for the win. He improved on his season-best by seven tenths and leapfrogged up the collegiate season rankings, from 11th to fifth. The time is just six tenths off the NCAA automatic qualifying time, but unfortunately, Parravicini will not be able to swim in the NCAA championships. During the four-year transition process, neither GCU nor Incarnate Word will be able to compete in the national championships. But both teams are competing in what is being viewed as swimming’s version of college basketball’s NIT tournament this March to compare themselves to their D-I rivals.
Kastigar, who won both individual medleys earlier in the meet, also took the women’s 200 fly with a 1:58.06 as the only swimmer under two minutes. It turned out to be a major school record for the freshman, taking five seconds off the former mark held by Rebecca Coan from last season. Coan was second in the race, also beating her personal best with a 2:00.93.
Lytvenok, a transplant from Ukraine who also enjoyed a sweep of the IM races, took the 200 back with a 1:44.16. Had Grand Canyon remained in Division II, that swim would be second-fastest in that division, behind Matthew Josa’s NCAA record 1:43.03. Daniel Torres, a senior from Incarnate Word, was second with a 1:46.16, improving on his lifetime best by two tenths of a second. He needed that time to beat GCU’s John Feely, who was third with a 1:46.88.
Though Incarnate Word was unable to win the meet, the Cardinals picked up four more event wins on Wednesday night. Molly Freeman won the 1650 freestyle with a 17:12.38, five seconds ahead of teammate Kaitlyn Whalen. In the women’s 200 back, UIW freshman Ashley Wayman posted a 2:04.62 for the win. Notably, Kastigar swam in that race as an exhibition swimmer about 20 minutes after winning the mile, and swam the fastest time of the day with a 2:01.05, beating the GCU school record by .07.
Celeste Morgen won the women’s 200 breast with a 2:23.12, well ahead of a GCU battle for second between Molly Graves (2:26.03) and Kathleen Robertson (2:26.62). The other win for Incarnate Word came in the men’s 1650, where Connor Hennessey swam a 15:45.05, winning the race by 35 seconds.
Postgrad swimmer Marcus Schlesinger won the men’s 100 free with a 43.49, beating his lifetime best by just seven hundredths of a second. The fastest collegiate swimmer in the race was GCU’s Illya Glazunov, who was second with a 44.06.
Jovanna Koens won the women’s 100 free with a 51.06, while Ivan Nechunaev won the men’s 200 fly with a 1:47.67, holding off Incarnate Word’s David Moore’s 1:48.62.
Grand Canyon closed out the meet with victories in the 400 freestyle relays. The women won with a time of 3:25.33, while the men posted a 2:56.12.