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SMC Swimming & Diving: Belles struggle in busy opening weekend

Isaac Lorton | Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saint Mary’s began its season with grueling back-to-back away meets Friday and Saturday, as they lost to Albion 196-97 on Friday, and then in a double-dual meet, lost to Hope 244-52 and Alma 176.5-118.5 on Saturday.

Belles coach Mark Benishek said he was pleased with Bhis squad’s improvement from Friday to Saturday.

“Overall [on Saturday], we had much, much stronger times compared to Friday,” Benishek said. “The team as whole improved on their times … That was great to see. Our athletes handled the back to back meets very well … It shows we are growing and remaining focused. Our goal is to improve on our times as the season goes on. We focused on each race and it showed.”

Against Albion on Friday, the top performers were senior Ellie Watson, sophomore Anna Nolan and freshman Carolyn Neville, who all won an event. Neville finished first in both the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle, with times of 57.13 and 2:04.33 respectively. Watson captured the top spot for the 200-yard individual medley by three seconds with a time of 2:25.12. Nolan narrowly defeated Albion junior Rachel Francis in the 50-meter yard freestyle by three-hundreths of a second, with a time of 26.24.

The Belles sole diver, freshman Andrea Canacci, in her first collegiate dive posted a 189.95 in the one-meter dive for the fifth-best score in program history.

“It was a good meet for us,” Benishek said. “We matched up well with [Albion]. We had some strong swims. [Canacci] had a great dive Friday night. It was a tremendous night for her. Across the board it was pretty good.”

The trio of Watson, Nolan and Neville were again the top performers for the Belles on Saturday.

Watson finished second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:02.74 and third in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:29.93. Nolan nabbed second place in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 26.07. Neville finished in second in the 100-yard freestyle and third in the 200 medley with times of 56.93 and 2:25.76 respectively.

“Since Saturday was a double-dual meet, the girls had more rest time between swims, which is one of the reasons I think they improved on their times,” Benishek said.

The last race of the day proved to be the highlight of Saturday, Benishek said, as the Belles took third in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The team of Watson, Nolan, Neville and freshman Emily Brown earned the bronze spot with a time of 3:52.81.

“The girls really capped off the afternoon with their performance in the 400 free,” Benishek said.

The Belles will be back in action at the Wabash Woehnker Invitational in Crawfordsville, Ind., starting Nov. 16.

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu