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UMass breaks both school and personal records

It was a busy weekend in Boston for the Massachusetts swimming and diving teams.

School records were broken in three different events as Jason Cook led the diving team with two more victories, and the swim team earned 22 top-five individual finishes.

With dive in Cambridge for the Harvard Invite, the swim teams both earned third place showings at Boston University’s Terrier Invitational.

The women rode three broken records to the bronze, two by sophomore Chelsea Downing and another by freshmen Amina Meho.

Downing went, according to women’s coach Bob Newhart, “under the mystical barrier” in the 500-yard freestyle. Her pacing to a 4:58.58 finish took fourth place on the day and knocked almost three seconds off of the previous Minutewomen record, held by Karin Sonnwald from 1994-1995 (5:01.17).

Downing also broke the 1650-yard freestyle record in a third place finish (17:24.56), and Meho snipped a whole second off of last season’s 50-yard freestyle record – for sixth on the day (23:55). Downing also notched fifth in the 400-yard individual medley (4:31.59), one spot ahead of stellar freshman Julie Magyar (4:32.85).

The women’s other top-five finishes included senior Elizabeth Walsh’s fourth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle (1:53.51), junior Rachel Borden’s fifth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.62) and Meho’s fourth-place showing in the 100-yard freestyle (52.55).

Newhart’s performer of the week was junior Gillian Bank, who swam personal bests in 100- and 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly and in four relays.

“We had 44 lifetime bests and 27 times in the school’s top 10,” Newhart said. “This was just the tip of the iceberg.”

Newhart also highlighted the women’s performance at night, saying 70 final times were faster than the daytime preliminary races.

“This was a great dress rehearsal for big meets later in the season,” said Newhart. In leading up to the Atlantic 10 Championships, he said they “got there now and can now get even faster.”

The women’s 514 points put them in third behind host BU and Yale University. Boston University also took first on the men’s side, followed by Boston College’s 751 points – just 10 ahead of UMass.

“We should have had second [place],” said men’s coach Russ Yarworth, “but we left some points on the deck.”

The final race of the day – the 400-yard freestyle relay by juniors Chris Howard and Trevor Ziegler, freshman Pete Sacco and senior Juan Moliere – slipped the men from second to third on a disqualification.

“They just had a bad exchange,” Yarworth said. “Howard came in too slow and Ziegler jumped out too fast.”

“We left some points in the pool and on the deck,” Yarworth said about that relay and Joey Sbordon’s 400-yard individual medley disqualification.

Sbordon, however, also had three top-three finishes. He and freshman Jorge Fortin took first and third in the 200-yard freestyle, with times of 1:40.93 and 1:42.24, respectively. Fortin also placed second in the 100-yard backstroke (50:81), just ahead of fellow Minuteman, senior Andrew Willbrant (51.72) and three spots ahead of fifth-place Ziegler (52.64). Willbrant and sophomore Kyle Jennings took fourth and fifth in the 200-yard backstroke by finishing two-hundredths of a second apart (1:53.42 and 1:53.44, respectively).

Sbordon also had a second-place 500-yard freestyle (4:31.63) and a third-place finish in the 1650-yard freestyle (15:54.34).

Moliere’s bronze showing (20.72) in the 50-yard freestyle topped an event in which five Minutemen placed in the top eight.

Junior Brian Schmidt earned second in the 100-yard (58.20) and third in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:10.86), and Ziegler and Moliere came in together at third and fourth (46.24 and 46.26) in the 100-yard freestyle.

Senior Michael Berthaume earned two top-five finishes, with third place in the 100-yard (49.95) and fourth place in the 200-yard butterfly (1:54.64).

“We swam better than expected, with kids popping off best times,” Yarworth said.

Meanwhile, at Harvard, sophomore Jason Cook continued to win in a season of victories. In the one-meter, Cook rode a final round score of 343.45 to a final score of 639.55 and a first-place spot. Juniors John Clark and Adam Duffield and sophomore Conor Dunn took fifth through seventh behind Cook.

“I just went out there and enjoyed the guys,” Cook said, adding that he is beginning to work on new dives to improve his performance this season.

Cook and Duffield earned a one-two finish in the three-meter event, with final scores of 740.15 and 621.05, respectively.

Sophomore Hannah Swift led the women’s side with a 474.60, fifth-place showing in the one-meter dive.

The diving teams travel to Lewisburg, Pa., for the Bucknell Invitational on Dec. 4-6. On Dec. 5, the men’s swimmers will be in New Haven, Conn., to face Yale, and the women will head back to Boston to race Northeastern University.

Daniel Herberholz can be reached at dherberh@student.umass.edu.

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