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SMC Swimming: Belles earn first win in over a year

Matt Unger | Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Belles earned their first dual-meet win in more than a year Saturday — and by the slimmest of margins. Just 1.15 seconds separated the Belles from their closest competitors in the meet’s final relay to provide a thrilling conclusion to the event.

In the three-team meet in Holland, Mich., Saint Mary’s beat Alma College 137-126 but lost to Hope College, 142-106.

Having struggled in dual-meet relay races all season, the Belles saved their best performance for last in the 400-meter free relay, finishing with a time of 3:51.09.

“[The relay races] were an amazing swim by both of our relay teams,” Belles coach Mark Benishek said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time to lift our spirits heading into the conference championships.”

Sophomore Ellie Watson anchored the final leg of the race with a team-high time of 55 seconds. In addition, Watson shined in individual events, earning two first place finishes in the 500 freestyle and 1000 freestyle and third place in the 200 individual medley (IM).

Junior Audrey Dalrymple also led the way with first place in the 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. Dalrymple nearly won the 100 breaststroke but finished second to Hope swimmer Sarah Krueger by a mere 0.34 seconds.

Benishek described both Watson and Dalrymple as “strong leaders in the water” and believes that they both possess strong chances at earning bids to the NCAA Division III Championships in March.

Sophomore Katie Griffin also contributed to the winning effort with first place in the 100-yard butterfly, while junior Megan Price took second in the 200 and 500 freestyle events.

However, Saint Mary’s will swim in the MIAA Championships without two solid contributors in sophomores Liz Litke and Liz Palmer, who are both studying abroad this semester.

The Belles now have nearly three weeks to prepare for the MIAA Championships held on February 17-19, which will be held at Jenison High School, southwest of Grand Rapids, Mich.