Women’s and men’s swim and dive competed this past weekend at the three-day Big Al invitational, with both teams finishing in second behind the University of Utah. The men’s team scored 1015.5 points while the women’s team scored 849.
The Big Al invitational is a significant competition for the swimming team. The structure of the invitational resembles that of the Ivy League Championships, which both teams are looking to compete at in February 2022.
“The Big Al Invitational was the perfect opportunity for us as a team to get a lot of quality racing within a long period of time. It was also a great opportunity to see where we were at, midseason,” first-year Alexa Pappas wrote to the ‘Prince.’
Princeton opened Day 1 with a successful start. Sophomore Ellie Marquardt, junior Nikki Venema, and first-year Emily Appleton placed first, second, and third, respectively, in the 500 freestyle, with times of 4:49.23, 4:50.40 and 4:53.07. Sophomore Liza Whitmire went 2:00.54 in the 200 IM, coming in first and sophomore Margaux McDonald followed closely, coming in third with 2:02.04. In the 400-medley relay, Pappas, senior Vivian Wang, Venema, and junior Christina Bradley finished in first (3:39.60), and in the 200-medley relay, junior Jennifer Secrest, Wang, Venema, and Bradley finished in second (1:31.62).
For the men, junior Raunak Khosla placed first in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:43.66 while sophomore Brian Lou scored third for the 50 free (19.95), both finishing with NCAA B qualifying times. In the 500 freestyle, sophomore Nicholas Lim placed first. The relay teams of Lou, first-year Brett Feyerick, junior Joshua Brown, and junior Max Walther in the 200 free relay (1:18.86) and Feyerick, Lou, Khosla, and Walther in the 400-medley relay (3:10.14) both placed second.
On Day 2, the Tigers swept the 400 IM, with Marquardt continuing her streak and winning the event with a NCAA B cut qualifying time (4:13.99). Appleton and Whitmire came in second and third with times of 4:18.41 and 4:19.77, respectively. Meanwhile, in the 100 butterfly, Venema also torched the competition, swimming a 52.64 race, a time placing her 2nd all-time on the 100 fly leaderboard. In the 200 medley-relay, Pappas, Wang, Venema, and Bradley (1:38.96) secured first place again for the Tigers.
“I was very happy with the performance of the relay as a whole. Relays are very stressful because so much can happen so quickly with so many moving components to it,” Pappas wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “However, they are definitely the most exciting part of the meet to compete in and to watch my teammates compete in. All of us really gave it our all and I was so proud of everyone.”
For the men’s team, Khosla went 52.45 in the 100 breaststroke in preliminaries — a new school record, breaking the previous record of 52.86 in 2012. He also swam a 3:45.55 in the 400 IM, winning the event. Four other swimmers earned NCAA B cut times as well: Walther with a 1:36.18 in the 200 free, Lim with a 46.63 in the 100 fly, Brown with a 53.16 and Lou with a 53.62 in the 100 breast.
In the relay events, Princeton secured second place in the 200 medley relay and both first and second in the 800 free relay. First-year Tyler Hong, Brown, Lim, and Walther swam a 1:26.45 in the 200 medley while Lim, Walther, first-year Billy Swartwout, and Khosla earned first in the 800 free relay with a time of 6:24.82.
The men’s team had an especially strong Day 2 with Khosla’s record breaking and strong relay performance. “As a team, we had a great meet with a bunch of people breaking out and really showing their potential. Finishing 1–2–3–4 in the 800 free relay was a highlight of the meet and showed the depth we have as a team,” Kreidl wrote.
Princeton swimming and diving finished well on their third and final day. Khosla, Lim, and Kreidl swept the 200 butterfly, touching first (1:42.48), second (1:44.17), and third (1:45.32), respectively, all with NCAA B cut times. Feyerick and Lou placed second in 200 backstroke (1:45.18) and 200 breaststroke (1:57.10), respectively, while junior Dylan Porges came out on top in the 1650 freestyle (15:08.25) with an NCAA B cut time.
“I was very excited about my 200 butterfly. The NCAA B cut was a big deal because it was one of the team goals to accumulate as many B cuts as possible so it was nice to be able to add to the tally. It was especially fun because Princeton swept the top 3 spots which was a great way to end the meet,” Kreidl wrote to the ‘Prince.’
Meanwhile, sophomore Jess Yeager and first-year Jaime Chen placed first (1:59.93) and third (2:02.39), respectively, in the 200 fly, while Appleton touched third in the 1650 freestyle (16:45.59). Finally, in the 400 freestyle relay, Bradley, Venema, Wang, and Marquadt continued to show strong with a second place finish (3:20.87).
Senior Colten Young placed third in the 3-meter dive on Days 1 and 2, and placed second on Day 3.
Coming into the meet, the team aimed to keep up momentum over the course of the invitational.
“The team’s goal for Big Al was mainly to keep the energy up for all 3 days and to race to our full potential every session for the whole meet,” Kreidl wrote. “We put an emphasis on relays because they show the strength of the team as well as each individual.”
The team had also hoped to enjoy the invitational.
“I personally went into this meet with the expectations of just having fun and trying to put as little of pressure that I could on myself. It was my first meet as a freshman that wasn’t a dual meet, so I wanted to really enjoy every second of it,” Pappas wrote.
Looking ahead, the Tigers will face off at the USA Diving Winter nationals in December, and then at the four-day Tennessee Diving Invite in January. Having fulfilled much of their goals going into the meet, the team is optimistic about the energy and excitement they plan to give in to the second half of the season this year.
“There were so many of us on the team that went career best times and season best times,” Pappas wrote. “It just shows how much hard work everyone has already put into the season and how much potential we have as a team for Ivy Championships in February.”
Erin Lee is a Contributing Sports writer at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.