The Drexel University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams returned to the Drexel Pool Jan. 12 for a Colonial Athletic Association meet against the University of Delaware Blue Hens, with the women also playing host to the Northeastern University Huskies. The competition was Drexel’s first team meet since a mid-November matchup against Rutgers University. While most Drexel students took a few weeks to sit back and relax over the Thanksgiving and winter breaks, the swimming and diving teams continued to work hard in the pool. Head swimming coach Shawn Markey sees the breaks as an opportunity to continue to improve and prepare for the second half of the season.
“We have some of our biggest training days coming up during the winter break,” Markey said before the teams’ extended break. “It is a time when swimmers get pushed to the limits of their potential and beyond.”
While every meet on the schedule is important, the Drexel-Delaware meet takes on particular significance given the rich history between the two schools. As a former standout swimmer at Drexel, Markey is well aware of the added intensity of the rivalry.
“Once the dual meet season starts back up with our first meet against Delaware and Northeastern, my goal is to have the swimmers not only at the peak of their training but ready to race and put it on the line,” Markey said. “The Drexel vs. Delaware meet has spanned decades, and I want our swimmers to come out of those close races on top.”
Adding to the importance of the meet was the fact that it was Senior Day. The team honored seniors Lauren Faykes, Julie Lin, Steph Uecker, David Boodey, Stephen Cal and Daniel Zalkind for their great effort over the past three and a half years. Despite a strong effort from both Drexel sides, Delaware came out on top, defeating the men and women 179-121 and 210-90, respectively. The Huskies also bested the Drexel women 206-94. Although the Dragons fell in the team competition, they did not make it easy for their opponents, posting many strong performances throughout the day.
On the men’s side, Drexel’s 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Kyle Lukens, sophomore Chad Schmidt, sophomore Mike Krohn and junior Alex Bagshaw kicked off the day on a high note by taking first in a close race in 1:34.39, just 0.23 seconds ahead of Delaware. In the 100-yard backstroke, freshman Joel Berryman finished first for Drexel with a time of 51.38. In perhaps the most impressive race of the day for the Dragons, junior Greg Oprendek, sophomore Andrew Reimon and Schmidt swept the top three places with times of 59.10, 59.28, and 59.66, respectively. Yet another meet highlight for Drexel came from sophomore Alex Chialastri, who placed second in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyles, finishing in 47.92 and 1:44.07 in the respective races.
The women also featured several strong performances, most notably senior Lauren Faykes. In her final three individual collegiate races at the Drexel Pool, the standout senior swept the competition, placing first in each one. She started off by winning the 200-yard butterfly in 2:06.87, claimed the 500-yard freestyle in 5:06.92 and finally capped off her day with a dominant win in the 200-yard individual medley, touching the wall nearly three seconds ahead of second place with a time of 2:08.50. Another high point for the Dragons was the strong performance by sophomore Brianna Bentz, who notched three second-place finishes on the day. She touched the wall in 24.11 in the 50-yard freestyle, 53.31 in the 100-yard freestyle and 58.57 in the 100-yard butterfly. Junior Gizem Yali also placed second for Drexel in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing in 2:07.52.
In the other pool, the Drexel divers also had a successful day. Senior Stephen Cal and freshman David Sanchez placed first and third in the one-meter event, scoring 277.20 and 257.20, respectively. In the three-meter event, Sanchez placed first and Cal took third with respective scores of 278.80 and 251.50, which was good to secure Drexel first place overall. Freshman Madison Kramer scored 243.45 for first in the 100-meter event.
The Drexel swimming and diving teams will be back in the pool against Howard University Jan. 19 in Washington, D.C.