The air was thick with excitement and chlorine at the Aquatic Center Saturday as Ohio geared up for its final home meet of the season against Cleveland State and Bowling Green. After being on the road for much of the season, Coach Mason Norman found that being back at the home pool created an environment that helped spur the Bobcats’ success.
“This meet was really good for us, obviously senior day with a chance to recognize the 5 students who are graduating … and being at home in this environment with the parents and fellow students, it created a really good environment, and we swam with that energy behind us,” Norman said.
That energy carried Ohio to a first-place finish, defeating Bowling Green 182-117 and Cleveland State 242-48.
One of the biggest strengths that Ohio has currently is its depth. This has been a trend throughout Ohio’s season, and it was solidified by Saturday’s tri-meet. Ohio has several swimmers who can nab a podium spot in multiple events.
“We’ll maybe win an event, but we’re also getting second or third or fourth, with multiple people scoring,” Norman said.
The Bobcats did just that in the tri-meet. Bobcat McKenzie Grau was the top swimmer of the meet with 696 points.
Grau also had a time of 51.34 in the 100 free, which earned her first place. She was closely followed by teammate Caroline Dunigan, who took second place with a time of 52.12. On the mid-distance side, Emma Fortman placed first in the 500 free with a time 5:04.05.
Another Bobcat, Gabrielle Brust, took home first in the 200 fly with a 2:03.70 finish. Her teammates Madeline Marks and Peyton Farrell placed second and third. Brust also secured a top spot in the 100 fly with a time of 55.39, and her teammates Farrell and Kendra Sheehan in second and third, respectively.
Dunigan and Madeline Marks were other first place finishers in their respective individual events, the 50 free and the 400 IM.
Norman named Grau, Brust and Emma Fortman as the stand-out performers of the day due to their wins in their individual events.
According to Norman, one of the most exciting parts of the meet was when both the 400 medley relay and the 200 free relays placed first. The 400-medley squad finished with a time of 3:46.00, while the 200 free finished in 1:35.76.
For the divers, Halli Siwik once again put on a stellar performance. She placed second in both the 3-meter dive and 1-meter dive. Sienna Breton was another standout and earned a third place finish in the 1-meter, as well as sixth in the 3-meter.
Looking ahead, the Bobcats are beginning to prepare for the Mid-American Conference Championships. Norman’s definition of what a “good swim” looks like is also changing with the championships looming.
“If they are piecing together the race the way that we want to see it in three and a half weeks at the championships, than that is a really good race,” Norman said. “Time goes out the window.”
Norman believes that the Bobcats' ability to secure multiple top spots in races will also be a particularly important aspect in their quest to earn a MAC championship title.