The Occidental swim team traveled to Splash! at La Mirada for a four-day SCIAC competition, hosted by Chapman University. The event featured groundbreaking school records and personal bests amid fierce rivalries in the conference, including sophomore standout Austin Lashley’s qualification for the “B” cut in the NCAAs with a record time of 49.10 seconds in the 50.
“We have been training for 19 weeks to prepare for this meet,” head coach Tom Iannone said via email. “We have prepared well both in and out of the water to position ourselves to compete to the best of our ability at SCIACs.”
In the weeks leading up to the SCIAC competition, both the men’s and women’s teams amped up their training at practice, gearing up for the final competition. The teams got together the day before departing for SCIACs to bond and strategize for the competition. According to Weiser, as an annual tradition, the men’s team got unique haircuts to sport at the competition.
In preparation for the conference, the swimmers tapered off their usual training in order to ensure their bodies were prepared and fully energized to compete the full four days.
“After tapering, we’re full of energy, muscles are relaxed and we end up swimming faster,” Tomás Dakan (senior) said.
The swimmers began competing Feb. 18, leading off with a strong start in the relays, with the women placing third and the men sixth out of the nine SCIAC teams. Edward Dabsys (first year) had a standout race, shattering his previous lifetime record in the 800 free relay with a time of 1:47.64. On the women’s side, Lizzy Kosin (senior), Rose Seabrook (junior), Madeline Gillman (sophomore) and Rebeca Fernandez (senior) almost reached the school record in the 800 free relay, missing it by only .36 seconds. Ellie O’Brien (junior) helped earn major points by finishing as the fastest breaststroker and third fastest 200 freestyler of the day.
“I surprised myself this meet by how well I have done,” O’Brien said via email. “Each race has made me more excited and ready for the next race, which is exactly how a good meet should turn out.”
The competition grew fierce Friday morning, as the men’s team quickly improved and snagged fifth place with 177 points, inching closer to Cal Lutheran in fourth place. It turned out to be a historic day for Will Westwater (senior), who took down the individual 50 freestyle record held since 1992 and demolished the 200 freestyle relay with teammates Lashley, Sean Sullivan (senior) and Chase Mitchell (sophomore) in 1:24.34, crushing the previous record of 1:25.10.
“I was lucky enough to out touch the third place person by one hundredth of a second and get on the podium for Oxy,” Westwater said. “I hope the record doesn’t last long, though. We’ve been lucky enough to have record-breaking SCIACs every year.”
The next day, both teams continued to chase after personal and school records on Sunday, not willing to let go of their competition.
“We go crazy,” Dakan said. “We’re renowned for being the loudest and most obnoxious cheerers at the conference. It creates a rhythm that pulsates through the whole team.”
Building off the excitement and energetic team support, Kosin took the school record in the 400 IM with an astounding time of 4:39.54 seconds, dropping two seconds off the previous record. Other notable performances included the women’s 400 relay, which finished fourth in a close tie, with Fernandez bringing up the anchor at 53.71 seconds.
The last day of SCIACs culminated with the women finishing in fifth place with 371 points, just ahead of Cal Lutheran, and the men in sixth with 351 points, ahead of University of La Verne.
“Our student athletes have shown great dedication and determination over the course of five months that reflects the character and discipline it takes to succeed at the college level,” Iannone said via email. “I am very grateful and proud to have been given the opportunity to work with them.”