Swimming and Diving rearranges the record books at Missouri

By Daniel Collins

The Illinois Swimming and Diving team kept the book keepers busy this weekend, setting 68 lifetime best records at the Missouri Invitational, while finishing in fourth-place out of nine contenders.

On Thursday, the first day of the invite, Gabbie Stecker provided the Illini’s first event victory in the 500 freestyle and set her name atop of Illinois’ best in the event.

“Stecker had a fantastic swim,” head coach Sue Novitsky said after day one. “She has been training at a high level and she put together a (good performance).”

Other notable achievements on the first day occurred when senior Alison Meng, junior Lori Lynn and freshmen Samantha Stratford and Gabrielle Bethke swam the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:44.03, ranking them fourth in Illinois history. Meng also surpassed her third-place record time on Illinois’ list in the 100 butterfly.

On day two, Meng continued to alter the record books when she swam the 100 backstroke with a time of 53.92, setting her atop of Illinois’ all-time list. Meng now holds the top seven spots.

In the 100 breaststroke, Stratford finished fifth and moved up to eighth on Illinois’ fastest list in that event. Junior Jennifer Coady also swam in the 100 breast and finished 13th with a time of (1:03.00), setting a lifetime best.

 “I was very proud of how the team came back from the first day and continued to race tough all the way through the (second) day,” Novitsky said.

On the final day of the invite, junior Sloane McDermott and senior Callan McDermott set life-time bests in the 200 freestyle with times of 2:00.98 and 2:02.96, respectively. Meng and Bethke also set a lifetime-best in the 100 free with times of 50.65 and 51.39, respectively.  

Later on, Stecker proved to be one of the most successful Illini to ever swim in the 200 fly by breaking her own record. She now holds the top three spots in Illinois history in that event.

On the boards, freshman Raquel Corniuk broke the school’s platform record twice in the same day with scores of 209.35 and 210.25, respectively. Sophomore Olivia Kassouni set a life-time during the platform diving preliminaries with a score of 195.60, which ranks her third in Illinois history.

Overall, Novitsky said the team’s efforts provided a continuous flow of energy throughout the three-day event.

“The energy and enthusiasm that these ladies brought to the pool was contagious and we just kept feeding off of each other performance to keep the momentum going,” Novitsky said.

The Illini finished the three-day event with a total of 506 points. Missouri, Florida International and Nebraska were the top three teams, scoring 1,118, 586 and 513 points, respectively.

Daniel can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @chisports2.