Swim team makes waves at SCIACs meet

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Students during practice at Taylor pool at Occidental College. Friday, Feb. 14, 2019. Nanuka Jorjadze/The Occidental

Occidental’s swim team attended the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship meet Feb. 21–23 in the Brenda Villa Aquatic Center in Commerce, CA. Both the men and women’s teams scored higher than last year, breaking a total of eight school records. The women’s team placed third overall while the men’s team placed fifth.

According to head coach Steve Webb, there was an overall sense of pride in the team’s accomplishments at SCIACs, stemming from the substantial amount of work the teams put in.

“It really started back in September; 19 weeks of preparing for this one meet,” Webb said. “They’ve worked their butts off all week to get to this point, and it was fun to see that hard work pay off.”

The women’s team placed third with a score of 507 following a number of record-breaking performances to earn their highest SCIAC finish in 20 years. The women’s 200-yard medley relay started the meet off strong by taking third, with an All-SCIAC finish and school record at a time of 1:47.79 on Thursday. The women’s 200-yard medley relay consists of Emily Driscoll (first year), Laura Chun (senior), Claire Jang (first year) and Joan Kronick (senior).

The team continued the streak when swimmers in the 800-yard freestyle relay, the 200-yard free relay and the 400-yard medley relay also set school records. Cindy Dong (first year), Emily Bartylla (first year), Chun and Driscoll made up the 800-yard freestyle relay. Hannah Ash (senior), Kronick, Dong and Jang made up the 200-yard free relay. Driscoll, Chun, Dong and Kronick made up the 400-yard medley relay.

The women’s team also had a show of outstanding individual talent. Siena Lucido (first year) set the record in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:38.29 while Katie Hines (first year) placed second in the 1650-yard freestyle to win an All-SCIAC spot. Qualifying for nationals, Dong posted an NCAA “B” Cut in the 100-yard fly, with a time of 56.59. Dong also won the SCIAC 200-yard fly meet and conference record with a time of 2:02.13 and will be attending nationals coming up in March.

Dong experienced the close-knit bond and traditions of the team in her top moment of the weekend.

“My favorite part was just seeing the entire team on the other side of the pool, and they’re waving at me, making hearts,” Dong said. “We have this massive tiger head and ‘Tiger Territory’ sign, and I loved that.”

The men’s team placed fifth with a score of 465. Like the women, the men started the meet off strong when swimmers in the 800-yard freestyle relay placed fifth with a time of 6:51.17 to earn a school record on Friday. Later that day, the men’s 200-yard medley relay placed sixth. The men’s relay teams continued to show their strength when they were named All-SCIAC in the 200-yard free relay after a third-place finish. Sam Sachs (sophomore), Zeke Sebastian (sophomore), Miles Koupal* (first year) and Zander Granath (junior) make up the 800-yard freestyle relay. Ben Sappey (senior), Roee Perry (senior), Edward Dabsys (senior) and Sebastian made up the 200-yard medley relay. Sachs, Dabsys, Granath and Sebastian made up the 200-yard relay.

According to Webb, the number of relay wins the team accumulated is no coincidence.

“That speaks to how deep we are as a team,” Webb said. “Relays are a strength because we have a lot of really great swimmers.”

Individually, the men’s team had some near misses. Noah Nagel (first year) had a time of 4:09.60, just 0.22 seconds short of beating the school record in the 400 individual medley. Dabsys finished fourth at 45.55 in the 100 free, missing the SCIAC Championship by 0.07 seconds.

The NCAA National meet is up next for Dong, while the rest of the team gets a break before training begins for next year’s season.

Cindy Dong (first year) talks about her experience at SCIACs outside of the Academic Commons. Thursday, Feb 28, 2019. Victoria Winter/The Occidental

“It feels good. I feel like I can represent Oxy,” Dong said.

This record-breaking SCIAC performance serves as another building block to advance the accomplishments of the team. Webb said he has hopes to continue to improve the team.

“We’d love to build off of this. On the women’s side, we want to move up even more and get more into nationals, and on the men’s side, move up to third next year,” Webb said.

Dabsys, captain of the men’s team, also looks forward to the exciting prospect of next year for the team.

“Every year we all get a little bit better, and this is the first year we saw real results,” Dabsys said. “But next year will be better, so freshmen are lucky. The team is great, and everyone coming to Oxy should be looking forward to it.”

*Miles Koupal is a photographer for The Occidental.