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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Bulls Win First-Ever MAC Championship

For the first time in school history, the men's swimming and diving team is the Mid-American Conference champion.

The Bulls (6-2, 1-1 MAC) won the 2011 MAC Swimming and Diving Championships, breaking countless records and finishing the three-day meet with 763.5 points. Performances were solid at Southern Illinois University's Edward J. Shea Natatorium, and head coach Andy Bashor couldn't be more proud of his team.

"It feels awesome," Bashor said. "I told the team this is the feeling that you train for. A team accomplishment like that – it's great. The water has never felt any better."

The conference meet consisted of five relays. The Bulls placed first while setting new school records in every one of them.

Freshman Phil Aronica and sophomores Josh Meints, Matt Schwippert, and Matt Hogan won the 400-yard medley while setting the MAC Championship record. Their time of 3:14.98 was also 2.18 seconds faster than the school record set in 2010. Aronica broke the 100-yard backstroke record during his leg of the relay, shaving .09 seconds off of Schwippert's old record, finishing in 48.03 seconds.

Buffalo did the same thing in the 200-yard medley relay, breaking the school record by 2.76 seconds and earning an NCAA B cut mark with a time of 1:27.87. The foursome of Aronica, Hogan, Schwippert, and junior Jared Heine also set a new conference record.

The team closed out the meet on Saturday in the 400-yard freestyle relay with another school record, another MAC Championship record, an NCAA B cut, and most importantly, a win. Junior Simon Proudfoot, freshman Mike Dugan, Heine, and Hogan finished in 2:56.60, cutting the 2010 record down by three seconds.

Bashor was happy with the continuity between his relay teams and thought it really helped his team in the end.

"These guys; they did it," Bashor said. "It's a lot easier when you start off with a great day and just keep that momentum going. They kept feeding off of each other. We definitely had some ups and downs there, but they were able to pick themselves back up and have a good race.

Individually, freshman Andrew Tanzey broke UB's oldest swim record that was set in 2001 in the prelims of the 500-yard freestyle. Tanzey completed the 20 laps in 4:28.82, taking 2.65 seconds off of former Bull Jason McLachan's time. Heine also won the 50-yard freestyle with a season-best time of 20.26 and went on to win the 100-freestyle in 44.44 after breaking his own school record during prelims.

Hogan placed second in the 200-yard individual medley, setting a school record with a 1:48.50, taking 2.5 seconds off of Zach Ruske's 2009 time. Hogan later won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:37.05, earning a B cut and beating his old record for the race.

In the one-meter dive, junior Colin Patrican placed second with 332.45 points in the championship round. Senior Kenny Rhoades finished fourth with 302.45 points and had a season-best during prelims with 322.45 points.

For the third consecutive season, Bashor was named Conference Coach of the Year as he led the Bulls to their first championship title. Aronica, Heine, Hogan, Meints, and Schwippert were named to the All-MAC First Team, while Proudfoot, Tanzey, and sophomore Cory Zorsch earned All-MAC Second Team honors.

"This is a huge accomplishment for these guys and not just for this team but all the other teams who have been before us at [UB]," Bashor said. "This is the first one in our history, and that makes it even more special.

Next up for the Bulls will be the NCAA Diving Championships, which are scheduled to start on Friday. The NCAA Championships begin on March 17 for the women and March 24 for the men.

E-mail: sports@ubspectrum.com


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