Missouri makes splash in SEC swim and dive championships

Michael Chadwick finished the meet with three podium finishes, and was part of the 400-yard freestyle relay team that broke the school record tonight.
A Missouri swimmer competes in the breast stroke during the SEC championships hosted by Missouri in the Mizzou Aquatic Center on Feb. 18.

Missouri coach Greg Rhodenbaugh thought his swim and dive team competed exceptionally well at the SEC Championship held in Columbia this week — even though it was unshaved and untapered. Heading into the NCAA Championships, Rhodenbaugh could not be more excited to see what else the athletes can accomplish.

“Being able to compete like we did, in about every race, is a pretty neat thing for people who are unshaved and unrested,” Rhodenbaugh said. “Although I thought we’d be pretty good, I didn’t know we’d be this good.”

The Missouri men’s team wrapped up the championships with 902 points and in fifth place, matching the best-ever SEC finish for the men’s program. The women’s swimming team scored their best finish in program history at the SEC Championship taking fifth place, too.

In the men’s, junior Michael Chadwick had a dominating meet, finishing on the podium three times. One of those finishes was tonight after finishing second in the 100-yard freestyle. Chadwick can add that silver medal to the two bronze medals he won earlier in week.

“This just reinforces the idea I’m in a really good place (heading into NCAAs),” Chadwick said. “I didn’t get a whole lot of rest for this meet, and I didn’t shave, so I’d say the word is excited. I’m really excited to see where I am in a month.”

In the women’s, junior Katharine Ross and senior Abby Duncan capped the successful week by taking fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 200-yard breaststroke.

“I was a little shocked to drop so much time,” Ross said. “It was good practice for me for NCAAs.”

The final day of the championships started out for the men with the finals in the 1,650-yard swim. Junior Nick Davis did not qualify for the finals, but with his personal best time of 15:23 earlier in the afternoon, he finished 21st. The time put him third all-time on the Missouri team.

In the men’s 200 backstroke, freshman Alex Walton finished 18th overall with a time of 1:44.71. Junior Carter Griffin came in fifth with a time of 1:41.44. In the men’s 100 free, Chadwick was joined by teammates freshman Mikel Schreuders, who finished 15th in 44.03 and senior Matthew Margritier, who finished 13th in 43.82.

Chadwick came in second to Florida’s Caeleb Dressel, who made history Wednesday during the 50-yard freestyle, when he broke the American record in 18.23 seconds. Chadwick is looking forward to competing against Dressel as the year goes on.

“Standing next to Caeleb felt really good, since he’s an outstanding swimmer,” Chadwick said. “The silver was particularly good for me because Caeleb and I are going to be racing a lot in the next year, so it was cool to stand on the podium together and start it off.”

Rhodenbaugh was also pleased with Chadwick’s second place finish to Dressel, and said he was excited to see what is in store as the Missouri swimmer is able to rest up before the NCAA Championships.

“I think that gap is going to close pretty quickly,” Rhodenbaugh said. “Caeleb is one of the best in the world now. So is Michael. We’ll see what happens once we even the playing field in Atlanta.”

The men’s 200 breaststroke featured two Tigers in each of the three heats. Freshmen Nick Staver and Jordan O’Brian finished 18th and 20th, respectively, and senior Michal Rokita finished 16th. Sophomore Jordy Groters finished 11th and junior Eddie Mapel finished eighth. Junior Fabian Schwingenschlogl finished as the SEC runner-up in the event, swimming a time of 1:53.87, a mere .37 seconds from the winning time.

Schwingenschlogl said his goal for the race was to not go out fast and finish with a big kick, and he felt like he achieved that goal. He knew he needed to focus on his race and no one else’s, so he was content with his time and podium finish.

“First place always feels better, but mostly the goal was the focus on the times,” he said. “Focus on getting fast times in the pool, being unshaved and untapered, and try to be competitive. That’s what it’s all about.”

The men rounded out the night and the championships with a fifth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Chadwick, Margritier, Schreuders and Groters finished with a time of 2:52.05, a time that broke the school’s record.

In the women’s, the relay team of senior Anna Patterson, sophomores Hannah Stevens and Rachel Hayden, and freshman Maddie Gehrke notched the second-fastest relay time in program history, good for fifth place in the competition.

“I thought we’d be pretty good,” Rhodenbaugh said. “I didn’t know we’d be this good.”

Sophomore diver Madeline McKernan placed fourth in the women's platform event. Two points separated her and the podium, while sophomore Kira Zubar placed 11th in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:24.20. In the 200-yard backstroke, junior Nadine Laemmler placed seventh and Stevens placed ninth. Patterson placed 11th in the 100-yard freestyle, and Hayden placed 20th.

The NCAA Division I Championships begin March 23 in Atlanta.

“It’s been such a great year,” Ross said. “This has been a huge step for us. I’m just so proud of our team and so blessed to be a part of … making history.”

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