GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Calvin women's swimming and diving team claimed the first-place seat on day one of the 2018 MIAA Swimming and Diving Championships. The Knights earned 40 points to gain an early six-point lead over Hope College.
The Knights kicked off the meet with a record-breaking, first-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The team of junior Madelyn Smith (Allegan, Mich./Allegan), sophomore Libby Engle (Troy, Mich./Troy), junior Anna Serino (Pinckney, Mich./Pinckney) and senior Abby VanHarn (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) notched a time of 7:28.14 to break the Calvin and MIAA records. The previous record was held by Megan Schroeder, Serino, Kendall Murphy and VanHarn who posted a 7:31.21 time in 2016.
"What I told the team after the race was that you can never underestimate the value of starting off with a bang like that," said head coach Dan Gelderloos. "What those four individuals did in that relay was give the rest of the team, 60-plus people, all the confidence in the world that what we've been doing in practice is going to work for them too. That was huge. There are no guarantees that just because you swim one event fast that everything else is going to go well. But it sure gets the momentum going."
The Knights' divers also had strong performances in the preliminaries of the three-meter dive. Senior Sarah Bradley (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North) placed second with a score of 431.50. Joselyn Smith finished fourth with 407.80, while freshman Hannabeth Magnussen (Oakdale, Calif./Ripon Christian) recorded a 366.15 for sixth place. Freshman Stephany Morrow (Eagle Lake, Minn./Mankato East) finished in eighth place in exhibition with 302.40 points.
"I'm very proud. We did very well," said head diving coach Aaron Paskvan. "We'd like to get a few more entries into the water cleaner, but we were on top of every dive. I think it gives us good energy and a good feeling. We've performed these dives daily, and we can do it under the microscope and when the lights are on. As performers, we want to show our best when everyone comes to watch. We had a good crowd tonight and it was fun to show us our skills and how hard we've worked this season to get to where we are. We're looking forward to tomorrow and see what we can do in finals."
Junior Daniella Sugijanto (Walnut Creek, Calif./Northgate) placed first in the 50-yard backstroke exhibition with a time of 27.56, while sophomore Sydney Boyer (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) followed at 29.13. In the 50-yard butterfly exhibition, junior Ka'lee Sparks (Otsego, Mich./Otsego) was the fastest swimmer at 27.05.
The Knights are back in action tomorrow in day two of the MIAA Swimming and Diving Championships.