Competitive swimming back after three-year hiatus

Packed crowd cheers them on at Linsey Pool

Photos/Adam Levin

Niko Karkantis '13 competing in the 100-yard butterfly

Competing for the first time since the 2009-10 season, and for the first time at home since 2008, the Brandeis Swimming and Diving teams earned 15 victories and established a new school record in front of the packed Linsey Pool bleachers last Saturday against Wheaton College. Although the Judges fell to the Lyons on both the men’s (159-97) and women’s side (163-120), the day was a tremendously positive experience.

“This was a great meet for us,” said Head Coach Mike Kotch of his first official event for the Judges in Linsey Pool. “We had a bunch of great individual performances. With a few more solid recruiting classes, I think this is a meet we should be able to win a couple of years down the line.”

The meet, which was supported extensively by the Brandeis Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, featured an appearance by mascot Louie the Judge and a raucous crowd of Brandeis students and parents.

“It was exciting to see our student athletes able to compete on campus again,” said Director of Athletics Sheryl Sousa ’90. “It’s been a long time coming, and watching them do what they love to do, with great support from the rest of campus, was tremendous.”

The highlight of the meet for Brandeis came from sophomore Max Fabian, who won three of the Judges’ 15 events and established a new school record in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:58.06. He knocked a full seven seconds off the previous mark established in 2006 by Hal Grossman ’06.

Fabian also won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:02.22 and the 200 butterfly in 2:06.05. He is a transfer from Connecticut College who this past summer attended a U.S. Swimming Open Water Select Camp for the top distance swimmers in the nation.

 “I knew the record was there,” Fabian said of his win in the 1,000, which was the first individual event of the meet. “It wasn’t a huge thing, but I wanted to get us off to the right start. I was more focused on scoring points to help the team try to win. That’s the most important thing, especially with such a small team.”

On the women’s side, senior Holly Spicer, one of four holdovers from the previous incarnation of Brandeis swimming and diving, was a double-winner, taking both of the breaststroke events – the 100 in 1:11.27 and the 200 in 2:37.05.

The meet “was really exciting,” Spicer said. “After not competing in a real race for three years, it was fun to see where I am now and where I need to be for the season.”

Freshman Brian Luk joined Fabian as a triple winner, excelling in sprint events. Luk won the 50 freestyle (22.65 seconds, winning by just 0.03 of a second), the 100 free (48.98 seconds) and the 100 butterfly (56.37 seconds).

The Brandeis women also had a multiple winner in the distance freestyle races, where freshman Theresa Gaffney was the program’s first event winner of the day, taking the 1,000 free in 11:43.44 in the third race of the meet. Gaffney also won the 500 in 5:44.05.

Freshman Lauren Cruz joined Fabian and Luk as a winner in multiple disciplines, capturing the 200 freestyle (2:05.94) and the 200 backstroke (2:25.02).

Other individual winners for the Judges were freshman David Lazarovich in the 100 breast with a time of 1:05.55; sophomore Gabby Drillich in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:30.04; and freshman Fallon Bushee in the 50 free (26.00 seconds).

Brandeis returns to action next weekend in Rochester at the Mini-UAA meet.

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