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Seniors post big marks on Senior Day

Marilyn Vaughn

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For some Crimson Tide swimmers and divers, last Saturday was their last home meet of the season. But for 16 team members it would be the last home meet of their Alabama swimming careers.

This past Saturday was the men’s and women’s swimming and diving team’s senior meet. The Tide honored nine women and seven men in what would be their last home meet in Don Gambril Olympic Pool. The seniors had their accolades read aloud and their pictures taken but for some the significance of the meet did not sink in right away.

“It’s really strange. I don’t think it sunk in that this is my last meet here and swimming in this pool collegiately anymore.” said senior Kate Shannon Gray, who swims the freestyle and individual medley.

Gray had a strong senior day and finished second in all three of her events the 100m and 200m breaststrokes, as well as the 200m IM [individual medley].

However, the women were not able to claim the title at their senior meet and fell to the Florida State Seminoles 157-143. The men defeated the Seminoles 157.5-141.5. This victory brought the men’s record to a perfect 7-0.

“This is the first time in a long time our men are undefeated,” head coach Eric McIlquham said. “We’ve had some milestones throughout the course of the year, but the year’s not over. We really judge things on how we finish at the conclusion of the year on how many All-Americans we put up and how many points we score at NCAAs.”

One swimmer who has consistently performed well for the Tide has been senior Catalin Cosma, who won the 1650m and 500m freestyle races.

“Catalin Cosma has been performing for us in the distance events for four years,” McIlquham said. “We got freshmen stepping up on the guys’ and girls’ side. It’s good to have depth, but we have a ways to go.”

Though McIlquham feels the freshmen have some growing to do, they were still able to score points with their limited experience. The women had Alex Popa win the 100m breaststroke, Lauren Piper win the 200m IM, and Kristel Vourna win the 50m and 100m freestyle as well as the 100m butterfly. On the diving side freshman Paige McCleary took first on the 1-meter board.

“It’s awesome being able to leave a team where you have freshmen that are performing at a level to be able to win an event,” Gray said. “That kind of stuff makes me proud and have confidence the team will is going to be great once I’m gone.”

On the men’s side, freshman Alex Coci won the 100m backstroke and the 100m butterfly, while BJ Hornikel won the 100m freestyle.

“Over the years our recruiting has gotten better and we’ve really filled in our weakness in some of the events we weren’t strong in. We have a really strong future. The team’s going to get better and better,” said junior Joe Ziegler.

The next event for the women’s and men’s team will be an away meet against South Carolina and Georgia in Columbia, S. C., this Saturday.

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Seniors post big marks on Senior Day