The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams headed to the University Athletic Association Championships hosted at Case Western Reserve University on Feb. 13-16.

Going into the meet both teams knew that they had no shot at winning the meet, or even finishing in the top half, but that did not deter the Yellowjackets. Both the men’s and women’s teams went to the UAA meet to swim for themselves and both came away with a seventh place finish.

“Unfortunately, since the UAA is such a strong conference our place does not really reflect our performance,” head coach Julie Benker-O’Brien said. “When nearly everyone on both [the men’s and women’s] teams records lifetime best times it is tough to ask for much more as a coach.”

Women’s Results

The women finished in seventh place with a total of 281 points and narrowly missed sixth place, which Brandeis University claimed with 285.5 points.

When it came to scoring the women stayed true to form. The seniors came up big for the Yellowjackets. Seniors Kristin Broderick and Christina DeVries scored in all three of the events that they participated in, while senior Jacque Staple scored in two out of her three events.

“Kristin and Jacque have scored all four years in the UAA meet, but this was the first time for Christina. It was really nice to see them all do well in their last collegiate meet,” Benker said.

Broderick had a standout performance in the 200- yard backstroke. With a time of 2:11.25 she set the new school record and just missed the NCAA provisional qualifying time, falling short by only six hundreths of a second.

Several other women had markedly improved times. “A lot of the girls didn’t score, but many of them established themselves with much improved performances,” assistant coach Stacy Wells said.

Sophomore Annie Podkaminer was one of these individuals, setting lifetime bests in all three of her events. Podkaminer broke a minute in the 100-yard freestyle for the first time, she cut seven seconds off her previous best in the the 200-yard freestyle and five seconds in the 200-yard backstroke.

Sophomores Andrea Galati and Andrea Pallante also had strong meets, each posting lifetime bests in all of their events.

A group of freshmen also showed a dedication to the team and improvement. According to Benker there were some nice performances by the freshman. “Liz Reese’s performances in the relays really showed that she is a team player. Sara Sibenaller showed dedication and it payed off when she met all of her goals at the UAA meet.”

Freshman diver Patricia McHale helped the Yellowjackets by finishing sixth in the one meter diving competition. McHale also picked up a ninth place finish in the three meter competition. “For Patricia to do this at the UAA meet is especially impressive considering that the UAA is definitely one of the stronger conferences for diving,” Benker said.

The women’s showings have left the team with standards to improve upon next season. Off-season training will be critical to the success of next season’s squad. The loss of the three seniors will definitely be felt, but they did there job while they were here, and it is up to the remaining members to pick up where they left off, next season.

Men’s Results

For the men seventh place seemed inevitable and with a total of 210 points that is where they finished. Place definitely didn’t sum up the men’s performances.

“The men were very strong, this meet was something positive that they can use to build on for next season,” assistant coach Eric Stefanski said.

The times were the focus in the UAA meet. Every individual on the men’s team recorded a lifetime best time in atleast one event.

Junior Mike McCormick recorded personal bests in the 100-yard butterfly. McCormick also took 10 seconds off his previous best time in the 200-yard butterfly and finished just two tenths away from qualifying for nationals.

The sophomore duo of Alex Provan and Alex Blakeney had impressive showings at the UAA meet. Provan had strong swims and recorded lifetime bests in both the 200-yard IM and breaststroke. Blakeney had lifetime best split times in the 200, 500 and 1,000 yard splits during the mile race.

Junior Eric Schweigert and freshman Sam Schrauth only begin to round out the standout performances.

Schweigert broke 50 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle for the first time, while Schrauth cut 28 seconds off his previous best time in the 500-yard freestyle.

With these and other fine performances the men are very motivated for next season. “The team did a fantastic job at becoming a unit since beginning of the season,” Stefanski said.

Fitzsimmons can be reached at

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