SMU Wins Fourth Consecutive C-USA Swimming Championship
Feb. 28, 2009
HOUSTON, Texas - The 2008 Conference USA Swimming and Diving Championship concluded Saturday night at the CRWC Natatorium on the campus of the University of Houston with SMU claiming its fourth consecutive C-USA crown. The Mustangs posted another dominant victory that saw the team set seven meet and pool records en route to winning 13 total swimming events. Those performances helped them score 857.5 points during the four-day event. The league championship is the 13th consecutive overall for SMU.
The host Cougars finished in second place with 623 points and also had an excellent event as they won seven individual events and set one new meet and pool record. Rice took third place with 595 points, while East Carolina claimed fourth with 532.5 points and Marshall was fifth with 225 points. Women’s Invitation members North Dakota (409), Cal State Bakersfield (184) and Northern Colorado (147) rounded out the event field.
The Mustangs closed the championship with their third record of the night when the team of Candace Blackman, Sasha Van den Branden, Elzanne Werth and Petra Klosova won the 400-yard freestyle relay title in an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time of 3:17.00. Rice took second in an NCAA ‘B’ time of 3:21.66, while East Carolina took third in 3:23.09.
Friday's finals began Andrea Pa’lmai of Houston taking gold in the 1,650-yard freestyle. The senior finished in personal best time 16:38.87, which also smashed the UH school record. Teammate Kim Eeson finished in second (16:43.18) a time that was also faster than the previous school record, while Rice’s Caitlin Warner claimed the bronze in 16:45.93.
In women’s platform diving, 2008 Olympic silver medalist Anastasia Pozdniakova of Houston claimed the gold medal to sweep all three diving events. Pozdniakova became the first diver to win all three events since former Cougar Tania Cagnotto in 2006. SMU’s Audra Egenolf took the silver medal (277.55) and was just 3.75 points behind Pozdniakova, while UH’s Courtney Forcucci was in third, scoring 234.75 points.
SMU freshman Therese Svendsen touched first in the 200-yard back in a time of 1:55.51, which was good for an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time. Rice’s Skylar Craig finished second (1:59.41), while Cathryn DeShaw of invitational member North Dakota claimed third (2:00.65).
The Mustangs extended their lead over the competition in the 100 free as they swept the top three places. All-American and 2007 C-USA Swimmer of the Year Petra Klosova took first in a record time of 48.58. The time eclipsed the record she set at the championship a year ago and was also an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying mark.
Teammate Candace Blackman was just behind in second, touching in 49.64, also good for an NCAA ‘B’ cut, while Sasha Van den Branden finished in third (49.86).
SMU hauled in more gold in the 200 breast when freshman Raminta Dvariskyte closed the gap on ECU’s Stephanie Harper in the last 25-yards to touch first in 2:13.68. The mark set a new meet and pool record and was also good for an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time. Harper’s second-place time of 2:14.45 was also an NCAA ‘B’ cut, while former record holder Jennifer Basel of SMU finished in third (2:14.62). Basel’s time was also below the NCAA ‘B’ mark.
Houston’s Sasha Schwendenwein continued to re-write the UH record books in the 200-yard butterfly final when she touched the wall first in 1:56.48 for a new meet, pool and school record. The time was also a personal best for the senior and an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time. Schwendenwein had broken the event’s old record in Saturday’s prelims, only to swim more than two seconds faster in the final.
Rice’s Erin Mattson finished in second place in an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time of 1:58.94 and was followed in third by SMU’s Denisa Smolenova (1:59.19). Smolenova’s time was also an NCAA ‘B’ cut.
Men's teams from league schools East Carolina and SMU along with Hawai'i were also competing in the C-USA men's invitational. SMU also claimed the meet title in that event scoring 921 points. The Mustang men have also won 13 straight conference titles. Hawai'i finished second with 769 points, while East Carolina claimed third with 542. North Dakota took fourth place with 442 points and Cal State Bakersfield finished fifth with 421.
In addition to the team awards, individual awards were also handed out that were voted upon by the league’s head coaches. Houston swept the four women's awards with Cougar head coach Mark Taylor winning his first Women's Swimming Coach of the Year award. Schwendenwein was crowned Women's Swimmer of the Meet, while Pozdniakova was named Women's Diver of the Meet for the second time in her career. Jane Figueiredo of UH was named Women's Diving Coach of the Year for the eighth consecutive season,
On the men's side SMU also swept the individual awards as Eddie Sinnott was voted Men's Swimming Coach of the Year and Edward Downes garnered Men's Swimmer of the Meet. The Mustangs’ Jim Stillson won his first C-USA Invitational Diving Coach of the Year award and sophomore Matt Culbertson was named Diver of the Meet.
C-USA teams will now turn their focus towards the NCAA meet, which will take place March 19-21 at the Student Recreation Center and Natatorium in College Station, Texas, hosted by Texas A&M.
Check back to www.conferenceusa.com after the NCAA meet to see who claims the C-USA end of the year specialty awards.
Click on the links at the top of the page for complete meet results, team scores, live stats and championship information.