by Eva Dean Folkert
Their night started with a relay school record and ended with a relay win. And in between, sophomores Emma Schaefer and Meg Peel climbed up to the gold-medal podium position with individual wins for the Flying Dutch women's swimming and diving team at the 2019 MIAA Championships at the Holland Aquatic Center on Thursday.
After the second night of competition, the Hope College women's swimming and diving team currently stands in second place with 263 points while Calvin College leads the championships with a score of 326 points. Albion College is in third with 208, Kalamazoo is fourth with 174, Olivet College is fifth with 92, and Alma College is sixth with 80.
Schaefer of DeWitt (Saint Johns HS), pictured right, set a school record while garnering an individual win in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:06.79, shaving almost a second off the old school record (2:07.76) set by Molly Meyer in 2016.
Peel of Spring Lake (Spring Lake HS), pictured left, captured the 500 freestyle title, swimming to victory in 5:03.12.
Prior to those individual victories, though, Peel and Schaefer teamed up with junior Allison Eppinga of Saline, Michigan (Saline HS) and senior Sydney Asselin of Holland (Holland Christian HS) in the evening's first race — the 200 freestyle relay. Though the quartet finished third in that event, they swam to a time of 1:35.20, good for a B-cut for the NCAA championship meet while setting a school record that bettered the time of 1:35.32 set by Michelle Hance, Molly Meyer, Mikayla Freyling and Klare Northuis in 2014.
Additionally, in the night's last event, Peel and Schaefer teamed with Eppinga and senior Betsy Craig of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS) and raced to a win in the 400 medley relay in 3:51.10 while achieving another B-cut time.
"We had a lot of good things happen tonight including those two school records and a bunch of personal best times," said co-head coach John Patnott. "We're going to have to dig down a little bit deeper tomorrow. We had a few events where we probably went out too fast so we'll have to correct that so we can finish stronger. Other than that, they raced with a lot of heart."
Other finals heat finishers on Thursday were as follows:
- Senior Abigail Brinks of Commerce Township, Michigan (Walled Lake Northern HS) swam to sixth place (5:12.41) while junior Alison Sobkowski of Portage, Indiana (Portage HS) was seventh (5:16.99) in the 500 freestyle;
- Junior Paula Nolte of Elmhurst, Illinois (York Community ) took fourth place in the 200 individual medley (2:11.38)
- Eppinga and Asselin finished third (24.09) and sixth (24.46), respectively, in the 50 freestyle; and,
- Senior diver Sara Plohetski of South Lyon, Michigan (South Lyon HS) earned a B-cut point total with 416.60 and third place on the 3-meter board while senior diver Areal Tolsma of Holland (Holland Christian HS) finished eighth with 293.80.
Thursday consolation heat finishers included:
- Freshman Abigail LaDuke of Holland (West Ottawa HS) and freshman Paige Kuhn of Dorr (Hamilton HS) who were 12th (5:18.21) and 13th (5:18.52), respectively, in the 500 freestyle;
- Freshman Aubrey East of Farmington Hills (North Farmington HS), freshman Alyssa Potyraj of Grandville (Grandville HS), and senior Sara Hudson of Novi (Walled Lake Western) who finished 10th, (2:14.88), 13th (2:16.89) and 16th (2:21.29), respectively, in the 200-yard individual medley;
- Junior Erica Slenk of Zeeland (Holland Christian) who was 15th (26.04) in the 50 freestyle.
The 2019 MIAA Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships continue at the Holland Aquatic Center Friday with prelims at 10:00 a.m. and finals at 5:30 p.m.