COLLEGE STATION, Texas, October 10. THE Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team opened the 2003-04 season with an all-encompassing 171-109 defeat of North Texas at the Student Rec Center Natatorium on Friday night.
The Aggies won all 16 events with underclassmen playing a key role in nine of them.
“I thought they swam better than I expected,” Texas A&M Head Coach Steve Bultman said. “I’m very pleased to start out the season like this.”
Big 12 500 free champion Katie Fancher started right where she left off last season by capturing wins in the 100 and 1,000-yard freestyles. Fancher’s winning time of 10:31.25 in the 1,000 free was more than 15 seconds faster than her opener a year ago. The junior from Tucson, Ariz., beat freshman teammate Emily Thompson, also from Tucson, 53.94 to 55.83 for the win in the 100 free.
“I was a little nervous because it was the beginning of the season, but I had a big improvement from how I started out last year,” Fancher said. “All the freshmen did really well today. This is going to be an exciting season.”
Sophomore Erin Briskie also won two events for A&M on Friday. Briskie, who qualified for the Olympic trials in the 100 breaststroke this summer, won that event in a time of 1:04.62. The Dallas native also claimed top honors in the 200 backstroke (2:06.07).
Perhaps the most eye-opening performance of the meet was turned in by freshman Rebecca Sturdy. In the first individual race of her Aggie career, Sturdy almost erased the Texas A&M school record in the 100 back by posting a near-lifetime-best time of 55.31. Courtney Patterson’s time of 54.99 at the Big 12 Championships in Austin last year is the only 100 back time in A&M history that Sturdy didn’t surpass in her first solo race. Sturdy’s mark was the only NCAA consideration time turned in by A&M in the season opener.
“When I looked at the board, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, where did that come from?’,” Sturdy said. “I’m definitely happy to start out like that this early in the season and I look forward to improving that as the season goes on.”
Sturdy also anchored the Aggie 400 medley relay to victory in 3:51.42. The foursome of Patterson, Britney Pesek, Millie Reynolds and Sturdy beat the A&M quartet of Dia Rose Gentile, Briskie, Thompson and Danielle Townsend by six-tenths of a second. Gentile, sophomore Rachel Condit, junior Tiffany Moore and junior Christina Thompson won the 200 free relay in 1:40.78.
Freshman Alida DiPlacido began her A&M career by sweeping both diving events. DiPlacido qualified for the Zone D Championships in March by scoring a total of 267.07 on the one-meter springboard then followed that up with an event-winning total of 253.95 on the three-meter.
Two more freshmen, Meghan Nebera and Jenna Wheeler, earned wins in their first appearances as Aggies. Nebera finished first in the 500 freestyle (5:08.97) while Wheeler took top honors in the 200 fly (2:03.56).
Other Aggies to turn in wins in the season opener were Townsend, 200 freestyle, 1:52.85; Pesek, 50 freestyle, 24.52; junior Kelsey Savage, 200 breast, 2:25.58; Christina Thompson, 100 butterfly, 59.51; and Patterson, 200 individual medley, 2:06.67.
The Aggies will be back in action this coming Friday at the Big 12 Relays in Ames, Iowa and will swim dual meets against both Iowa State and Missouri on Saturday.