By Drew Zuhosky
Over the weekend, the Youngstown State University Swimming and Diving program took to the water for the first dual meet of this season versus Niagara University inside the Beeghly Center Natatorium.
The meet featured 16 events, highlighted by one-meter and three-meter dives, as well as the 200-yard relay and 200-yard freestyle relay. This was the first event on the 2014-2015 schedule to encompass both swimming and diving.
YSU won 166-120; senior backstroke swimmer Ashley Dow won three events — including the backstroke with a time of 59.10 seconds. She also won the 200-yard backstroke, clocking in at 2:08.75, and the 200-meter individual medley — clocking in at 2:14.92.
Freshman swimmer Madison Aranda also took top honors in three events, including the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:46.61 and the 100-yard butterfly, finishing with a time of 59.82 seconds.
The recent Tom Stubbs Invitational at Bowling Green University was a swimming-only meet. YSU swimmers Dow, Victoria Orosz and Chelsea Malone finished third in the 3×100-yard backstroke relay with a time of 2:57.92.
YSU also finished fifth, fourth and sixth in the 3×100-yard butterfly relay, the conventional 800-yard freestyle relay and the 3×100-yard breaststroke relay.
Head coach Matt Anderson took time to reflect on Dow’s prowess in the water.
“Ashley is an amazing swimmer underwater when she swims her 100-meter backstroke,” he said. “She goes about 15 meters off each wall under the water and she’s faster than most backstrokers are on the surface of the water that way. When she swims it, she swims 70 percent of the race underwater — the most she’s allowed to be underwater by NCAA rules. Her underwater kick is fast enough that it makes her freestyle faster. She’s really versatile because of that.”
The coach went onto praise his team’s success in the Stubbs Invitational.
“We got off to a great start there,” he said. “We were faster in seven out of 10 events than we’ve ever been in that meet. We’re very excited about that and how we got going in the season. We had great swims on those relays, and some of our upperclassmen’s times were as fast as they were throughout last season. We had two freshmen that came in and really lit it up and were able to round out the rest of the team.”
Anderson says it was great to have the team set the program-high time for the 3×100 relay.
“We haven’t had enough depth in the past in order to really be able to do that,” he said. “We put three good swimmers on the relay in order to make it as good as it could be. It was definitely exciting to have three strong newcomers that could really go out there and set the pace and make us faster than we’ve ever been before.”
The team has 11 athletes in either their first or second year on the team. Anderson finds this most beneficial to the upperclassmen.
“We’ve got a very strong team,” he said. “We’re really excited about where the future of our program is going to take us. It’s benefiting everybody because you get a lot of good competition at practice, so the upperclassmen are really stepping up to that in order to be able to keep up with freshmen and sophomores.”
McKenzie Stelter, freshman diver, points to one meet on the remaining schedule as the one she’s looking forward to the most.
“I’m looking forward to the Oakland/Ohio University meet next week,” she said. “Just because I know there’s going to be a lot of competition and I tend to do well under pressure.”