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Ohio University swimmer, Gabrielle Brust, celebrates after her and her teammates competed in the Championship Heat - 400 Medley Relay in the 2024 MAC Swimming and Dive Tournament at the Aquatic Center, Ohio University, Feb. 29, 2024. The Ohio University Relay team, comprised of Riley Bustine, Casi Dibetta, Gabrielle Brust and Zita Szoke, placed third in this event.

Swim & Dive: Ohio finishes Day 2 of the Mid-American Conference Championship

Ohio entered the second day of the Mid-American Conference championships, staring down a 10-point deficit to both Miami and Akron after two events on Day 1. Day 2 featured five events: the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard IM, the 50-yard freestyle, one-meter diving and the 400-yard medley relay.

Ohio competed in the finals of all events except one-meter diving, in which Astrid Pichardo finished 10th in the consolation final. However, in the four final events Ohio did compete in, the team boasted two top-three finishes, as well as three other individuals finishing in the top five.

500-yard freestyle

In what would ultimately be the first of three pool records broken in the night, Miami’s Nicole Maiar finished with a time of 4:40.30, beating the MAC record by over six seconds. She was followed by her teammate, Greta Kolbeck, who finished with a time of 4:45.35. 

Miami had four swimmers total filling the eight lanes, finishing first, second, sixth and eighth while the remaining slots were filled by Akron’s representative at third, Ohio’s at fourth, Buffalo’s at fifth and Bowling Green’s at seventh.

Ohio’s sole qualifier for the event was junior Gabby McKee, who finished fourth with a time of 4:51.91, giving Ohio its first top-five finish of the night. 

200-yard IM

Ohio’s first event with multiple qualifying swimmers was a successful one, with two top-six finishers. The event was stolen by yet another pool record, as Akron’s Rebecca Reid blazed through the water with a time of 1:58.18. She was followed by Miami’s Kaylin Herbet with a time of 1:59.74.

Akron, like Miami in the 500-yard freestyle, boasted four swimmers who qualified for the event and saw dominance on the podium by the time it was over. Outside of Reid, the Zips had the third-place finisher, as well as the seventh- and eighth-place finishers. 

Ohio also saw its presence felt on the podium, as Gabrielle Brust finished fourth with a time of 2:00.79 while McKinzie Grau finished sixth with a time of 2:01.33.

50-yard freestyle

The 50-yard freestyle is where Ohio saw its first top-three finish of the night, with star freshman Zita Szoke swimming strong en route to a time of 22.66 seconds. Szoke was joined in the podium’s top five by teammate Caroline Dunigan finishing behind at 22.93 seconds.

However, it was the Zips who brought home first place once again, with Akron’s Abigail Daniel collecting the third broken record of the day and the team’s second.

With no qualifiers for the one-meter dive, though, Ohio reloaded for the final event of the night, in what would ultimately be the event that got the entire crowd in the Aquatic Center on its feet: the 400-yard medley relay.

“We just had a really good speed in the 50 freestyle,” said Ohio Coach Mason Norman. “I thought (it) was exceptional.”

400-yard medley relay

In the one-meter dive, it was Buffalo’s Marialis Kwak taking home the win with 313.00 points. Following that was the 400-yard medley relay, in which four swimmers from each team completed two laps.

For Ohio, it was Riley Bunstine, Casi DiBetta, Gabrielle Brust and Szoke representing, in that order. It was a contested match throughout for first place, as Akron recorded the fourth pool record broken of the day, with its four swimmers finishing with a dominant time of 3:32.79.

Ohio was sitting between fourth and fifth for the first three rounds, but as Szoke loaded up to finish out the relay, the energy shifted in Ohio’s lane. Szoke swam powerfully through her two laps, propelling the Bobcats to a third-place finish, at a time of 3:37.02.

“It just shows to (Zita’s) poise and the hard work she puts in,” said Norman. “She’s one of the hardest workers on the team, day in and day out.”

For Ohio, though, the goal will be to continue to move up heading into days three and four, hoping to make up some of the ground between the team and Akron and Miami. However, Norman doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the team’s ability to do so. 

“As the meet goes on, I feel like we improve as a team,” Norman said. “So the biggest thing is being able to recover from tonight.”


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