MIAMI, FL, January 2. HOSTING its most challenging field in the young program’s history on Sunday, saw the FIU swimming and diving team emerge with some strong performances in a deep and talented field, per FIU reports.
The Golden Panthers welcomed to the Bay Vista Aquatics Center nationally recognized programs including Purdue, No. 20 in the CSCAA poll; plus, Oakland – who is No. 5 and Tulane – who is No. 22 in the mid-major CSCAA poll. Joining the challenging field with the Golden Panthers were Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon and Valparaiso.
“Having top-quality teams like this wanting to come to our pool shows how far along our program is right now,” noted FIU head coach Noemi Zaharia. “The competition that these teams provide will help us as we look to build this program to that level.”
Purdue, who will host the NCAA Championships in March, won the invitational with 539 points. The Boilermakers eclipsed six pool records on the afternoon, including the 200-yard medley relay (1:48.78), the 400 IM (Jennifer Merte-4:31.59), the 100-yard freestyle (Erica Chandler-52.79), 100-yard butterfly (Carlene Takaki-57.34), 100-yard backstroke (Jenae Gill-58.68) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:37.90). Also, setting a pool record on the afternoon was Megan Carlin in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.65. FIU finished fifth with 187 points. On the men’s side, Pennsylvania tallied 568 points en route to the team title.
After missing the early part of the season, junior diver Megan Balkenbush picked up where she left off last season. The Fort Collins, Colo. native recorded a pair of NCAA Zone qualifying performances in the one-meter and three-meter. She swept the one-meter and three-meter with a career-best and pool record 282.53 points and 299.33 points, respectively.
After a strong season-opening performance on Thursday, sophomore Claudia Barsi posted the ninth-fastest time in the Sun Belt Conference this season and a third place overall finish in the 1000-yard freestyle (10:43.05). Barsi also finished third in the 500-yard freestyle (5:12.59). Senior Tiffany Haynes was seventh in the 100-yard butterfly, touching the wall in 1:02.50.
The Golden Panthers will resume its rigorous training and schedule with two-a-day practices until its next meet on Friday morning at the Miami Invitational in Coral Gables.