FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas swimming and diving team won the first annual Razorback Relays with a score of 526 points, defeating Vanderbilt, North Texas, SMU and Missouri State. The Razorbacks finished the day with nine event wins out of 12 in the first meet of head coach Sean Schimmel’s tenure.
“One of our goals coming in was to set up the type of team that we want to be at the end of the season and start developing that now and how they carry themselves and how they prepare themselves and obviously how they compete,” Schimmel said. “I thought we made some strides today. I saw a lot of women on our squad not wanting to lose and getting their hand on the wall first."
The Razorbacks took the lead out of the gate taking two of the top three times in the 3x100 butterfly. With a time of 2:50.51, freshman Nina Drolc, sophomore Susanna White and junior Aubrey Golbek finished in first and scored 26 points for the Razorbacks, giving UA an initial lead that would never be in jeopardy.
In the second event of the day, the Razorbacks again put together a strong showing, taking the first and third times once again. On the leadoff leg for the first-place relay group, junior Shana Lim clocked an impressive 55.48 leg, freshman Anna Mayfield and junior Liz Braun finished out the race for the Razorbacks, adding the second first place finish for UA, 2:44.61.
In the third consecutive event the Razorbacks took the top time, with sophomore Nikki Daniels, sophomore Julia Banach and sophomore Taylor Temple finishing the 3x100 breaststroke with a time of 3:11.76. After the relay, UA took a comfortable 48 point lead over second-place North Texas.
“The first three relays really set us up, just coming out, bang, bang, bang and that got us some momentum,” Schimmel said.
The 800 freestyle relay electrified the crowd as the Razorbacks were in a tight race, but were out touched at the wall by SMU for first place. Both freestyle relay teams scored high for the Razorbacks as they once again picked up two of the top-three finishes with second and third place, giving Arkansas 172 points on the day, and lengthening the Razorbacks lead to 64 points over North Texas (108).
The Arkansas divers put together a show on the three-meter board, taking three of the top-four finishes to give the Razorbacks a 78 point lead. Kesha Naylor finished in first place with 312.10 points, an NCAA qualifying score. Freshman Shelby Bartlett totaled a 269.45, good for second place in her first outing for the Cardinal and White, while fellow freshman Hannah Bortnick came in fourth with a score of 254.
The Arkansas swimmers collected two top-three finishes once again in the 500 freestyle relay, finishing second and third, bringing the Razorback point total to 262.
In the 400 medley relay the Razorbacks picked up their fifth first-place finish of the day. Lim got the Razorbacks off to a great start in the backstroke followed by strong performances by Daniels and White. However it was Drolc who came from behind to seal the victory with a final time of 3:45.59.
The 200 freestyle relay pitted Arkansas against SMU once again. SMU touched the wall first, besting the Razorbacks by just over a second. However, the Razorbacks scored heavily in the race taking the second and third times, 1:36.80 and 1:39.85.
Naylor once again shined on the boards with a qualifying score of 274.75 on one-meter, the top score in the event. Bartlett finished in third with a score of 249.65.
Picking up their seventh event win on the day, the Razorbacks snagged first in the 3x500 freestyle relay with a time of 14:59.72. The trio of senior Chelsea Franklin, junior Nicole Menzel and Jordan touched first, while Mayfield, freshman Lyndsie Gibson and freshman Rachel Stoehr touched second, putting the Razorbacks point total at 392 going into the final two events.
Arkansas finished strong in the final two events picking up two more wins, with first-place finishes in the 400-medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. In the 400-medley relay the Razorbacks were once again neck-and-neck with SMU, a strong anchor leg by redshirt freshman Tera Bradham cruised UA to the finish line. The final event of the day the Razorbacks took a commanding lead in the final leg finishing the 400 yard freestyle relay in 3:25.20, with Drolc, Lim, freshman Maddie Monroe and White.
Coach Schimmel commented on the strong relay finishes by the student-athletes.
“These women have a great deal of pride in who they are and the type of team they are on and they don’t like to lose,” Schimmel said.
The swimming and diving team will be back in the pool on Oct. 19 when they face Georgia at the Arkansas Natatorium at 2 p.m.