Tigers earn four medals in Missouri Grand Prix

The event included several Olympians.

Swimmers compete in the breaststroke Saturday during the Missouri Grand Prix at the Mizzou Aquatic Center, which featured several Olympic athletes. Missouri swimmers won four medals during the event, including junior Lauren Lavigna who swam the 200 backstroke, earning the only gold for the Tigers.

In a field that included several Olympians and members of the U.S. National Team, swimmers from Missouri won four medals over the weekend in the Missouri Grand Prix at the Mizzou Aquatic Center.

Sunday, junior Lauren Lavigna earned the Tiger's only gold medal of the weekend with a time of 2:14.11 in the women's 200 backstroke. Lavigna will participate in that event at the NCAA Championships in March.

Tiger freshman Dominique Bouchard finished second in the women's 200 backstroke, close to a second and a half behind Lavigna. Lavigna and Bouchard were the favorites to win after placing first and second in the preliminaries that morning. Both swimmers swam faster in finals than they had in preliminaries.

"We've been racing all year so it's been great," Lavigna said. "We push each other and we're used to swimming next to each other, so it's fun."

Bouchard and Lavigna also finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the women's 100 backstroke Saturday.

Senior Kim Jasmer won a silver medal Sunday by finishing second in the women's 100 freestyle behind Amanda Weir, a member of the U.S. National Team, by less than a second.

Jasmer also finished fifth in the women's 400 freestyle Saturday, despite being the fastest swimmer in the preliminaries that morning.

"I had a different strategy than this morning, and it didn't exactly work out for me," Jasmer said about her final. "But it wasn't absolutely terrible, and I learned something from it."

Sophomore Lisa Nathanson was the first Tiger to win a medal over the weekend, doing so in the women's 50 freestyle Saturday. Nathanson won the bronze medal with a time of 26.25.

"To be able to go close to my best was a good thing," said Nathanson, the school record holder in that event.

Missouri did not win any medals Friday night, but a couple of swimmers came close. Freshman Rachel Ripley finished fourth in the women's 100-meter breaststroke and senior Molly Bollen finished fifth in the women's 100 butterfly.

"It was really exciting," Bollen said. "I got to come out to the music and everything with my teammates behind me so it was really fun. But it was my last swim at this pool so it was kind of bittersweet."

The Missouri men's team did not have as much success as the women's team at the Grand Prix but placed two swimmers in championship finals. Sophomore Yaniv Shnaider finished seventh in the men's 400 individual medley Friday, and sophomore Jan Konarzewski finished seventh in the men's 100 backstroke Saturday.

The Grand Prix was the last meet for Missouri before the Big 12 Championships, which will take place Feb. 24 to Feb. 27 at Texas A&M.

"It was a good weekend," coach Brian Hoffer said. "We were pretty selective in what events we swam. I mean we have varying degrees of rest going on with our athletes right now, but I was happy. There were a few rough swims in there, but this isn't a focus meet. Our focus meet is the Big 12 Championships."

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