HOUSTON, Texas (Univ. of Ark.) - The No. 23 University of Arkansas swimming and diving team made a splash during the three-day Houston Cougar Swimming and Diving Invitational. The Razorbacks strung together six school record-breaking swims en route to the second-place finish.
Arkansas scored 699.50 points, defeating No. 17 LSU by 249 points, as only No. 4 Texas A&M finished the invitational with more points. The Razorbacks also defeated 13 other schools.
"The Razorbacks had great energy over all six sessions of this meet," head coach Sean Schimmel said. "That plus their performances in the pool were inspiring. They fed off of each other and really came together as a team."
The biggest point pick up of the day was in the 1,650 freestyle, as the Razorbacks placed four in the top-eight, going 3-4-5-6 and totaling 77 points overall. The mile was Arkansas' highest-scoring event of the meet. Leading the pack was sophomore Lauren Jordan with a time of 16:15.03. Two-time All-American Chelsea Franklin finished with a time of 16:25.95, with Nicole Menzel and Julia Kucherich picking up times of 16:32.17 and 16:35.70 respectively.
Also scoring for the Razorbacks in the mile was Allison Boyle, who placed ninth with a time of 16:53.97 and Sigrun Sverrisdottir placed 11th clocking 16:58.69.
Anna Mayfield followed the momentous mile race with a school record in the 200 backstroke. Mayfield clocked a personal best 1:55.18 to take the record for Arkansas, unseating teammate Liz Braun who held the previous record (1:56.68). After the first 50 yards Mayfield was in fourth with a 27.58 split, the freshman would clock the fastest second 50 in the heat with a 28.67 split.
The freshman would finish the final 100 with a time of 58.93 to take the record. Braun swam alongside Mayfield and had a standout race, finishing in sixth with a time of 1:57.23, fourth-best in school history. Fresh off her third-place finish in the mile, Jordan put together a 1:58.96 to take seventh overall.
In the 100 freestyle finals Susanna White made her mark yet again, tying her personal-best time of 49.89 exactly, which ranks second all-time in the Arkansas record books. White was the fastest off the blocks (.66) and was leading after the first 50 yards (24.11). White kept a strong pace with a 25.78 on the back 50 to take fourth overall and score for Arkansas. Nina Drolc also scored in the top-eight for Arkansas with a time of 50.28.
Maddie Monroe recorded a 10th-place finish (50.41), which was second in her heat. Monroe was in third going into the final stretch, but the freshman was able to track down Houston's Maggie McCord and touch with a personal-best time. Overall Arkansas recorded 33 points in the 100 freestyle to bring their point total to 572.5.
The 200 breaststroke was full of more Razorback personal bests as Nikki Daniels and Julia Banach each shaved over three seconds off their previous personal best they set today in preliminaries. The duo have been clutch for the Razorbacks all season as Daniels recorded a time of 2:10.73 and Banach at 2:12.70.
The 200 butterfly consolation final featured freshmen Rachel Kessler and Rebekah Harvey. The duo went back-and-forth the entire race, but it was Kessler that pulled away late to pick up a second-place finish with a personal-best time of 2:01.59 and Harvey touched at 2:02.94. Braun picked up a personal best in the 200 butterfly as she recorded a time of 2:02.41 to finish fifth overall.
With five school records already broken the Razorbacks only had one more thing to do in the 400 freestyle relay - make it six school records. Drolc swam the leadoff leg and put the Razorbacks in third before handing it off to Monroe. Monroe maintained the Razorbacks third-place time before handing it off to Mayfield. Mayfield didn't let them down as she clocked a blistering 49.67 split before giving it over to White to close.
White didn't disappoint as she clocked the fastest split of the group with a time of 49.28. Arkansas was one of only three relay teams that recorded legs under 50 seconds, as SMU and Texas A&M were also under 50 seconds. The quartet also improved their time from their last relay by 5.46 seconds.
"We are in a good spot for the end of November, but we still have a lot of work to do in order to continue our progress," Schimmel said. "The team has made some statements this weekend, but now we are ready to go back to work and prepare for championships season."
Earlier in the day junior diver Kesha Naylor bested 37 other divers on the platform with a score of 276 to take the top spot. The score was also good for the fifth-best in school history. This was Naylor's first-ever invitational win.
"I was extremely pleased with Kesha's performance," head diving coach Dale Schultz said. "She has been working hard in the dry land center and the pool to improve and I am extremely pleased she was able to dive as consistently as she was. It was an exciting win for her."
The Razorbacks will return to the pool on Jan. 12 as they face Penn State and Missouri State in a double-dual meet at the Arkansas Natatorium.
School Records Broken in Houston:
Shana Lim (53.66)
Anna Mayfield (1:55.18)
Nikki Daniels (1:00.12)
200 Medley Relay
Lim, Daniels, White, Drolc (1:39.08)
400 Medley Relay
Lim, Daniels, White, Drolc (3:37.21)
400 Freestyle Relay
Drolc, Monroe, Mayfield, White (3:19.56)