After an eight-month hiatus from competition, the University of Redlands men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams kicked off their seasons on Saturday hosting the UR Swim Invite at the Thompson Aquatic Center.
Redlands, Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, Occidental College, Chapman University and Grand Canyon University (AZ) joined up to compete in a five-team invite, and Redlands and Pomona-Pitzer won the men’s and women’s meets, respectively.
The Bulldog women amassed 521 points throughout the invitational and won by nearly 200 points. Pomona-Pitzer took second with 328.
On the men’s side, it was a three-team race for first, and Pomona-Pitzer ended up taking the first-place laurels with 383 points. Redlands settled for second with 357 points while Grand Canyon nabbed the third-place spot (343).
Sophomore Kelley Cooper (San Antonio, TX) starred on the women’s side, finishing second in the 200 freestyle with a 2:02.22 time, first in the 200 butterfly (2:16.96) and third in the 200 individual medley (2:18.13).
The depth at breaststroke proved to be in full force for the Bulldogs as sophomore Tory Haynes (Valley Center, CA) took first in the 200 breaststroke (2:38.46) and third in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.10).
Competing in her first meet for Redlands after transferring from Colorado College, sophomore Kat McIntosh (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) showed no signs of being intimidated by the pressure of Division III swimming in southern California as she placed third in the 100 freestyle with a 57.05 time, second in the 100 butterfly with a 1:02.33 standard and third in the 50 freestyle (26.12).
Also placing in the top four in their respective events for the Redlands women were senior Hillary Nicholson (Santa Cruz, CA) in the 200 backstroke (2:18.73, second), junior Melanie Loo (Waipahu, HI) in the 200 butterfly (2:17.98, second), sophomore Jo Navarro (Chandler, AZ) in the 200 butterfly (2:29.45, fourth), freshman Jenny Bates (Littleton, CO) in the 200 breaststroke (2:47.09, fourth), sophomore Kayla Desai (Lakewood, CO) and junior Danielle Caver (Highland, CA) in the 500 freestyle (5:42.38, tied for fourth) and freshman McKenzie Nakamura (Kenmore, WA) in the 100 butterfly (1:02.98, fourth) and the 200 individual medley (2:16.33, second).
In the final event of the meet, the 200 freestyle relay, the quartet of freshman Jaime Nippert (Gresham, OR), junior Leah Egbert (Antioch, CA), Caver and freshman K.C. Hughes (Gig Harbor, WA) edged the Redlands “B” relay, winning with a time of 1:47.21.
Despite having most of its top swimmers in the heat of water polo season and therefore not competing at the time, the men’s team yielded some solid showings throughout the meet.
The team’s distance ace, sophomore Alec Alders (Los Angeles, CA), was a double-event winner, taking the 200 freestyle in a 1:49.87 time and the 500 freestyle in a 4:55.65 standard.
Making their debuts at the college level, freshman Steve Zarian (Superior, CO) and freshman Will Houser (Woodinville, WA) each displayed the raw talent that was added to the 2008-09 squad. Houser starred in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.73) and the 200 breaststroke (2:23.74) and placed fourth and third, respectively, in those events. Taking on the sprint freestyle events, Zarian fared well covering the 200 freestyle in 1:51.57 (third), the 100 freestyle in 50.62 (third) and the 50 freestyle in 23.27 (fifth).
Freshman Jesse Lieberman (Princeton, NJ) supplied swift performances in the butterfly events, placing second in the 200 butterfly (2:09.09) and third in the 100 butterfly (55.43).
The other male swimmers that placed in the top four were junior Marc Hicks (Granada Hills, CA) in the 500 freestyle (5:08.95, second), sophomore Sonny Morin (Seattle, WA) in the 200 butterfly (2:22.08, fourth) and junior Sheldon Gruendl (Danville, CA) in the 500 freestyle (5:10.84, fourth) and the 200 freestyle (1:53.07, fourth).
Redlands competes in its first dual meet next Saturday morning, Nov. 1, as it takes on Cal Baptist University in Riverside at 10:30 a.m.