Swimming & Diving Wraps Up Weekend In Houston And Austin
Kitching Wins 200-Yard Breaststroke, Posting Two NCAA B Time Standards
DENTON — The North Texas swimmers and divers wrapped up their respective weekends on Saturday with the final day of competition at the Phill Hansel Invitational in Houston and the Texas Diving Invitational in Austin.
Sophomore Claudia Kitching picked up the first and only win of the weekend for North Texas, taking first place in the finals of the 200-yard breaststroke. She posted times in both the preliminary and finals that are NCAA B time standards, and her time of 2:13.51 in the finals was the second-fastest in program history.
"We really gained momentum each session," head coach Brendon Bray said. "The first day, we started out the gates with some events that weren't our top events, but we got better each session. We ended the weekend with a fantastic night session on Saturday. Claudia Kitching was unbelievable. She posted an NCAA B cut, which was our first of the season."
Sophomore Caroline Culpepper also advanced to an A final, in the 200-yard butterfly, finishing third place overall with a North Texas season-best time of 2:01.37, becoming the second-fastest swimmer in program history in the event. Senior Bianca Bocsa just missed qualifying for the A final in the 100-yard freestyle but came back and won the B final, finishing 10th place overall, with a North Texas season-best time of 50.94.
Other top finishers included sophomore Barbara Wasilewska (18th place, 17:23.29) in the 1650-yard freestyle, as well as junior Ashley Stone (13th, 2:02.52) and freshman Natalia Kwiatkowska (15th, 2:04.44) in the 200-yard backstroke, with Wasilewska and Stone both setting North Texas season-best times.
In the final event of the three-day competition, North Texas took sixth in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a season-best time of 3:26.24. And after 18 events, which included 13 individual events and five relays, North Texas finished in seventh place of 10 teams with a score of 562.50.
"Caroline Culpepper had the biggest time drops of anyone at the meet and was on fire in every event she swam," Bray said. "Bianca (Bocsa) is very close to breaking the school record (50.83), and she had an outstanding 100 freestyle. Isabelle Morris had outstanding events. She continues to improve and had a lifetime best in the 200 freestyle. Sarah Vaisse continues to impress. She had a great 200 IM and 100 breaststroke and really helped our relay teams. Our relays as a whole improved.
"This weekend is going to give us a lot of confidence going into the conference meet. We had some really good races, which will help our team's confidence once they get to end of the year, so they can perform at their best. I'm very impressed and I'm happy with how the girls competed."
On the boards in Austin, competing on the platform boards for the first time this season, senior Jasmine Abercrombie finished in 17th place with a score of 166.75, followed by junior Samantha Scheck in 18th place with a score of 158.30.
"Over the past three days of competition, the divers have done well, fought through doubt, and recovered to finish strong," diving coach Mark Murdock said. "My goal when bringing our divers here was to show them a next level competition, to bring them somewhere with top caliber athletes who have the determination and focus to reach their personal goals of becoming great divers.
"I believe that by bringing them to this invite it will help them understand what my ultimate goal for the team is and each of them individually."
- In addition to Stone and Kwiatkowska, who both advanced to the B final, a trio of seniors in Sarah Manning (2:06.27), Gaby Colunga (2:07.71) and Zoe James (2:08.01) advanced to the finals of the 200-yard backstroke.
- Bocsa had the 10th-fastest time (51.52) of the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries. She was joined in the finals by sophomore Sarah Vaisse (52:77), freshman Katie Moore (52:78) and junior Courtney Connelly (52.86).
- In the finals of the 100-yard freestyle, Bocsa missed her career-best time in the 100-yard freestyle by 0.01, which was set on Feb. 21, 2015 at the Conference USA Championships. She also missed the school record by 0.11, which was set by Becca Ploetz.
- Kitching posted her first of two NCAA B time standards (2:15.09) in the preliminaries of the 200-yard breaststroke, which was the second-fastest time of the session. She was followed by freshmen Kathleen Rousset (2:25.21) and Meaghan Rousset (2:26.47), who also advanced to the finals of the event.
- Like she did in the finals, Culpepper posted the third-fastest time of the preliminaries (2:01.37). Seniors Gaby Colunga (2:08.02) and Ashley Payne (2:10.42) also advanced to the finals in the event.
- The relay team of Isabelle Morris, Katie Moore, Sarah Vaisse and Bianca Bocsa finished in sixth place of the 400-yard freestyle relay with a season-best time of 3:26.24.
North Texas swimming and diving is off for about a month, before returning to the pool for the Incarnate Word Invitational on Friday, Dec. 18 in San Antonio.