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SMC Swimming: Watson leads team to seventh place finish

Megan Finneran | Monday, February 15, 2010

The Belles did not end the weekend, and their season, the way they would have liked, finishing seventh with a total score of 241 at the MIAA Championships hosted by Calvin College. But just as they had hoped going into the meet, many individual swimmers came out with huge accomplishments.

Freshman Ellie Watson started her first finals series with the Belles on a high note, breaking the school record in the championship heat for the 500-yard freestyle on the first day, finishing second in the preliminaries and advancing to the finals, where she earned a second-place medal with a time of 5:09.90 minutes.

“It feels really good to break the school record. All my hard work this season has finally paid off,” Watson said.

Watson also finished fifth in the finals in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:45.50 the second day. From there, things only got better when she ended the weekend with a second place finish and an NCAA B-cut time in the 1650 freestyle at 17:47.70. Now she must wait to see how other swimmers in her event finished to determine whether or not she will advance to nationals.

“For me this season has been great. I’ve put a lot of effort in and out of the pool. I am hoping my season is going to end on a high note,” Watson said.

That first round of finals also ended with a 13th-place finish in the 500 freestyle from senior Sara Niemann.  Additionally the Belles gained a fifth-place finish with a time of 1:41.29 for the 200 freestyle relay team of sophomore Barbara Beidler, freshmen Watson and Katie Griffin and senior Meredith Lierz. The 400 medley relay team of Beidler, Watson, Griffin and freshman Genevieve Spittler finished seventh in the finals with a time of 4:15.12.

The second day continued with similar accomplishments as Griffin, freshman Caila Poythress and freshman Emily Pearl placed 12th, 14th and 16th respectively in the 100 backstroke at 1:01.21, 1:03.51 and 1:04.68.

Other Belles advanced to the finals: Spittler finished 16th in the 100 butterfly at 1:02.90 and sixth in the 200 butterfly at 2:15.43 while Niemann and Biedler took 14th and 16th respectively in the 200 freestyle at 2:03.47 and 2:05.38.

The weekend ended with another triumph for Watson, who joined Lierz, sophomore Megan Price and Griffin in the 400 freestyle relay team to a fifth place finish at 3:43.83 and a second-best time for Saint Mary’s.

Griffin took 13th in the 100 freestyle at 55.54 and Poythress and Pearl took 12th and 15th respectively in the 200 backstroke at 2:16.08 and 2:19.54.

Seniors Niemann, Lierz and Maggie McNicholas ended their careers on high-note, each making the finals. Niemann finished 12th in the 1650 freestyle, Lierz placed 15th in the 100 freestyle and McNicholas took 12th in the 200 butterfly.