By Allison Peters, Swimming World College Intern
READING – As the semester comes to a close, Middle Atlantic Conference swimming teams are mentally and physically preparing themselves for training trips and winter break practices. Two swimmers, Widener’s Ian Gaynor and Messiah’s Tara Freeman, have made the biggest splash the first half of this season, continuing on from their powerful finishes to the 2013-14 season.
The MAC conference is composed of Lycoming, Misericordia, Arcadia, Wilkes, Albright, Farleigh Dickinson, Hood, Widener, Messiah, Stevenson, King’s and Lebanon Valley.
Gaynor is a sophomore who majors in management and marketing at Widener.
In his freshman year, he won two individual events at the MAC championships, the 100 freestyle (45.70) and the 200 freestyle (1:42.71). In both of these events he set new championship records. He also placed second in the 50 freestyle final (20.89) to Albright’s Ralph Porrazzo (20.75). In prelims, Gaynor swam a 20.73 in the 50 freestyle, which got him an NCAA B cut time. Gaynor helped the Pride to an overall fourth place finish at MACS by swimming the fastest legs his team saw in the 200 (20.75) and 400 (45.39) freestyle relays, which got them second place in both events. Men’s Rookie of the Year was awarded to Gaynor at the conclusion of the meet.
This season, Gaynor is on just as competitive of a track. Gaynor set a new meet record in the 100 freestyle in prelims of the Franklin and Marshal Invitational (44.90). This also set a new school record for Widener, as well as a new MAC conference record. In the 200 freestyle relay, Gaynor led off and swam the fastest 50 free time the school and conference has seen (20.37). The Pride swimmer goes undefeated in all his 100 and 50 freestyle swims this season in which he also holds the top conference times.
Freeman is a sophomore who majors in applied health science at Messiah. Freeman was named MAC Rookie of the Year after she posted top times in the 2014 championship meet. Individually, Freeman won the 50 freestyle (24.22), placed second in the 200 freestyle (1:57.05) to Arcadia’s Tara Nuzzo (1:55.82), and placed third in the 100 freestyle (53.22) to Nuzzo (52.70) and Albright’s Codi Herr (52.41).
All three of these times broke Messiah’s previous school records. Freeman also helped the Falcon’s to win the 200 and 400 freestyle relays where she posted the fastest splits for her team in each. In the 200 medley relay, Freeman recorded the fastest 50 butterfly split of the meet to help her team to victory.
The first half of this season Freeman proved to be a threat to the competition again. Freeman currently holds the top times the conference has seen in the 50 freestyle (24.65), 100 freestyle (53.90) and 100 butterfly (59.45). Every individual event she swam this half of the season has resulted in a victory. Freeman recorded a pair of double wins in a meet against Albright College where she earned 18 that helped the Falcon’s beat the Lions for the first time ever in program history.
The Widener men close out this half of the season with a 5-0-1 record, while the Messiah women end with a record of 8-2. Both teams will reopen against the competition on Jan. 10, Widener against Cabrini, Messiah against King’s and Arcadia in a double-dual away meet.
Allison Peters is a junior distance specialist at Albright College. Previously, she trained at The Atlantic Club, and the New Jersey Race Club as well as swam for the Point Pleasant Borough High School team.