No. 5 Golden Tiger Swimmers ‘Boil Water’ in Appalachian Conference Championship
The No. 5 nationally ranked Brenau University Golden Tigers swimming team from Gainesville, Georgia, captured the Appalachian Swimming Conference title and Brenau head swim coach Blair Bachman won conference coach-of-the-year honors for the fourth time consecutively here on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.
Led by the conference-declared “swimmer-of-the-meet” performance by sophomore All-American Courtney Hayward of Townsville, Australia, the Golden Tigers amassed 689 points beating defending conference champs Wheeling Jesuit University of Wheeling, West Virginia, by 65.5.
Union College of Barbourville, Kentucky, placed third with 364 points. Notre Dame College of South Euclid, Ohio, finished with 323.5 points and Urbana University of Urbana, Ohio, with 266 rounded out the top five.
“Our goal this season was to win a conference championship,” said Bachman, “and it’s thrilling to see every one’s hard work and dedication come together. There were countless meet and team records set in addition to many ‘personal best’ times. This is a huge accomplishment for our women’s team and well-deserved honor. This is something we will never forget.”
The Tigers, ranked No. 4 in the nation at the beginning of the season, following last year’s performance in the National Intercollegiate Athletics Association championship meet, now travel to the Oklahoma City in the first week in March for the 2015 NAIA final. The team could go into that meet with an improved ranking after the NAIA publishes its final regular season coaches’ poll on Feb. 25.
Hayward set the tone for the Tigers’ determination in the conference championship campaign by winning all three of her individual events and setting two new meet conference records – winning the 500-yard freestyle in 5:00.56 and the 400-yard IM in 4:31.82. She also won the 1650 freestyle in 17:11.
The final evening session began with Hayward’s first- place finish in the 1650 freestyle and a fifth-place finish by her fellow Aussie Ella Kleinschmidt, a freshman from Hervey Bay, Queensland, who finished in 18:06. Talia Sola, a sophomore from Madrid, Spain, and Amanda Smith, a freshman from Cumming, Georgia, followed with first- and third-place finishes in the 200 backstroke with times of 2:04.32 and 2:13.01 respectively.
In the 100 freestyle, Shelby Rumker, a senior from Douglas, Georgia, touched in fourth place at 53.56 while the third Australian on the Brenau team, freshman Alisha Hodgetts of Perth, finished eighth at 54.66.
Mary Katherine Jabbia, a junior from Slidell, Louisiana, secured her third win of the meet placing first in the 200 breaststroke in 2:25.17 and Sarah Frey, a freshman from Snellville, Georgia, added a sixth-place finish in 2:30.02. Maria Quiro, a freshman from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, finished seventh (2:35.03) and Sophie Nasstrom, a sophomore from Stockholm, Sweden, finished ninth (2:32.31).
Brenau capped off the meet with a record-setting time in the 400 freestyle relay. In that event, Michelle Billeaud, a senior from Lafayette, Louisiana, Hodgetts, Rumker and Hayward swam a water-boiling time of 3:34.23.