HOUSTON, Texas — The 23rd-ranked University of Arkansas swimming and diving team maintained its second place spot at the Houston Cougar Swimming and Diving Invitational with 422 points. The second day of competition was highlighted by the two more school record-breaking performances in the evening finals bringing their total to four school records broken in Houston. The Razorbacks tallied 228 total points on day two, 34 more than their day one total.
"The team’s doing a really good job and I am excited about doing things that we’ve never done before," head coach Sean Schimmel said. "We’ve only scratched the surface on what we can do."
The Razorbacks started off strong in the first event of the evening finals, swimming a blistering 1:39.08 in the 200-yard medley relay to claim the school record. Shana Lim, Nikki Daniels, Susanna White and Nina Drolc combined for the NCAA ‘B’ cut time; the quartet was also fresh off their school-record breaking swim in the 400 medley relay yesterday. With the swim, Arkansas improved their previous relay time by 3.21 seconds to pick up the top spot in the record books. The race was a tight one for the Razorbacks as Lim gave Arkansas the lead after the first leg with a 24.52 split. Daniels continued the momentous run as she clocked the second fastest split of the race in the breaststroke, handing it off to White and Drolc to close as the Razorbacks finished third overall in the race.
The Razorbacks had a big pick up in the second event on the evening, the 400 individual medley. The Razorbacks had Julia Kucherich and Tera Bradham in the championship final, where the duo placed third (4:17.18) and sixth (4:19.27) respectively. Both swimmers shaved time off their prelim times and Bradham recorded a personal best. After the initial 50 yards Kucherich was in eighth place, but the junior kept her calm and slowly moved up in the race and was in fourth going into the final 50 yards. Kucherich swam a blistering 27.94 in the final 50 to pass Air Force swimmer Kim Davis for third place, as she out-touched Davis at the wall by six hundredths of a second. Nicole Menzel and Rachel Kessler also scored for the Razorbacks placing 14th (4:25.49) and 16th (4:27.12) respectively.
Susanna White’s personal best in the 100 butterfly (55.10) in the preliminaries earned her a spot in the championship final. White recorded a 55.27 in the final, her second-best time of the season.
Freshman Anna Mayfield clocked a personal-best time and the second-best time in school history (1:46.74) in the 200 freestyle to make the championship final on Friday evening. Mayfield didn’t disappoint in the evening final as she placed fourth overall with a time of 1:47.40, the third-best time in school history.
The next event of the Arkansas slate was one of the most anticipated of the evening. In the morning preliminaries Nikki Daniels clocked the third-best time in school history (1:01.08) in the 100 breaststroke. Her prelim time was second only to Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson. Larsen shocked the crowd when she recorded a time of 57.80, just .09 off her own American record. Larson and Daniels entered the finals with all eyes on lane five. However, Daniels kept close to Larson throughout much of the race and clocked a record of her own with an Arkansas school record of 1:00.12. Daniels beat Leah Pierce’s record of 1:00.77, which has reigned supreme since 2009.
After the school-record breaking swim by Daniels it was Lim and Mayfield in the pool in the 100 backstroke. Lim and Mayfield already own the top-five 100 backstroke records in Razorback history. The duo went into the finals and placed fifth (53.77) and sixth (54.44) respectively. Lim was the fastest out of the gate with a 25.79 split, but was caught on the second 50 yards and was out-touched at the wall by just tenths.
The Razorbacks closed out the evening strong with a third-place finish in the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 7:17.52. Lauren Jordan, Menzel, Rachel Stoehr and Mayfield combined for the time, which ranks fourth-best in school history. Jordan clocked the fastest leg for the Razorbacks on the leadoff with a time of 1:48.27.
Diver Kesha Naylor made the championship finals on the one-meter board with a score of 276.00, which was a season-best for the junior. Naylor bested her preliminary total of 262.15 by13.85 points. Freshman Shelby Bartlett placed 15th overall with a score of 246.25.
The Razorbacks will return to the pool tomorrow for the final day of competition. Day three will include the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 1,650 freestyle and platform diving.
Be sure to follow along on the live blog tomorrow morning begining at 9:45 a.m. We will have full coverage throughout the day.