A determined and talented Hope women's swimming and diving team added three more gold medals to its league-meet accomplishments on Saturday night at the 2018 MIAA Championships. The final-night wins give the Flying Dutch a total of nine league titles this year to finish second in the league standings with 745 points.
Host Calvin College claimed the league championship with 929 points while Albion College has 692, Alma College 239, and Olivet College 208.
"This is the best we have swam all year," said head coach John Patnott said. "We had a lot of heart. I can't think of a single swimmer that didn't have a personal-best time. It shows the team what can happen when you work. That should inspire everybody else."
Saturday's Hope victors — freshman Meg Peel (left), sophomore Paula Nolte (center), and sophomore Erin Emmert (right) — added to Hope's impressive medal haul, usually with one or two other Hope swimmers finishing at their sides.
Peel of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake HS) continued her winning ways in the backstroke. In Saturday's 200-yard backstroke, the freshman phenom not only won the event by besting her own school record (2:01.00), she also set a new MIAA mark with a time of 2:00.77, breaking Hope's Molly Meyer's old record of 2:01.61, and earning an NCAA B-cut qualifying time. It was her second title of the championship, having won the 100-yard backstroke title on Friday.
Standing next to Peel on the 200-yard backstroke podium was freshman Hope Reynolds of Exon, Pennsylvania (Vila Maria Academy) who came in second place with a time of 2:05.24. Emmert of Grand Blanc, Michigan (Powers Catholic) took the sixth spot in that event with a 2:08.19 time.
Flying Dutch swimmers went 1-2-3 in the 200-yard breaststroke. Nolte of Elmhurst, Illinois (York Community HS) earned her second MIAA title of the championship with a time of 2:26.04 in the event. (She won the 100-yard breaststroke final on Friday.)
Nolte was accompanied on the awards stand of the 200-yard breaststroke by sophomore Erica Slenk of Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) who swam to a second-place finish, touching the wall in 2:26.51, while freshman Emma Schaefer of Dewitt, Michigan (Saint Johns HS) finished third in 2:28.78. Schaefer was the 400 IM winner on Friday.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Emmert earned her first MIAA title, winning the event in 2:07.49. Senior Chloe Palajac from Dearborn, Michigan (Dearborn HS), winner of the 200 IM on Thursday, came in just behind Emmert in second place with a 2:08.08.
Other finals heat finishers included junior Abigail Brinks of Commerce Township, Michigan (Walled Lake Northern HS) who touched the wall fifth in the 1650-yard freestyle (18:10.73) and junior Sydney Asselin of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) who claimed seventh place in the 100-yard freestyle (53.21).
In the championship's last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Peel, Palajac, Schaefer, and Asselin took third place in 3:32.89. Hope had one relay win at the championships when Palajac, Nolte, Asselin, and Peel won the 400-yard medley relay.
Saturday consolation finishers who added to Hope's total were:
- Senior Adrienne Smith of Grand Haven, Michigan (Grand Haven HS) who took 13th (2:38.37), sophomore Nicki Watson of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Catholic Central) who took 14th (2:40.58), and senior Sarah Zieschang of Austin, Texas (Veritas Academy) who finished 15th (2:44.19) in the 200-yard breaststroke; and,
- Freshman Mackenzie Ralston of Norton Shores, Michigan (Mona Shores HS) who raced to 9th place in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:23.63.