RADFORD, Va.-The North Carolina A&T swimming team finished in tenth place after Days 1 and 2 of the three-day Highlander Invitational at Radford University with four points.
They faced stiff competition amongst the nine other teams, as six new meet records were set in the evening part of competition, including three new pool records in Day 1. Two of those records were set by Liberty swimmers and two others by Campbell swimmers. In Day 2, new records were set in six of the seven finals events, including two by Campbell swimmers and two by Liberty student-athletes.
After Day 2, Liberty was in first place with 508.5 points, and Georgia Southern was second with 460. The Aggies also faced off against Campbell, St. Francis (Pa.), University of North Florida, Youngstown State, Mount St. Mary's, Radford and Millersville on Thursday and Friday, who rounded out the third through ninth place spots.
Prior to the meet, swimming coach Shawn Hendrix said that the team's focus would be on getting the best possible times to turn into the CCSA for championships. The team made some headway in that direction, earning some season-best times in a few races, including a season-best 200-yard freestyle relay, a 400-yard medley relay, an individual season-best in 500-yard freestyle, an individual season-best in the 50-yard freestyle and an individual season-best in the 200-yard IM on Thursday.
On Friday, the Aggies competed in two of the 14 events-the 200-yard medley relay and the 100-yard butterfly.
The Aggies finished 15th in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a season-best 1:47.48 time for four points on Thursday. That final time beat their seed time of 1:49.46, which the A relay team set on Oct. 21 in their season opener at Corbett Sports Center against Campbell. Danielle Jackson, Lauren Bowling, Courtney Jefferson and Erika Eiseman swam the 200-yard freestyle relay for N.C. A&T on Thursday. Junior Bowling had the fastest leg for the Aggies, clocking in at 25.68 seconds. The Aggies B relay team that swam the event was disqualified in its last leg, which Christian Hill swam.
In the preliminaries for the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday, Hill finished in 55th out of 62 swimmers with a 5:51.09 time. It was the fourth time this season she has swam that event, and it was her fastest time this season.
In the preliminaries for the 200-yard IM on Thursday, Bowling finished 37th out of 47 swimmers. She finished that race with a 2:25.36 final time, and swam the butterfly leg in 29.82 seconds. It was her first time swimming that event this season. Aarin Miles and Carolyn Pratt also competed in that race, and finished 46th and 47th respectively. Miles finished the 200-yard IM in 3:08.52, while Pratt finished in 3:18.52. It was Miles' third fastest time in that event this season. In the season opener on Oct. 21 against Campbell, she finished the 200-yard IM in 2.58:32.
Freshman Jackson finished the preliminaries in the 50-yard freestyle on Thursday in 26.56 seconds, which put her in 43rd place in that event out of 77 swimmers. It was her second-fastest time in that event this season. Bowling, Eiseman, Jefferson, Pratt, Miles, Akaela McGinty, Courtney Wilkins, Sara Simmons and Jaquline Maxwell also swam the 50-yard freestyle. Eiseman swam the 50-yard freestyle in 27.25, beating her 27.53 seed time, which she set on Oct. 21 at Corbett Sports Center.
The sixth event of the day on Thursday was the 400-yard medley relay. The Aggies' A and B relays teams finished 18th and 19th respectively. The A relay team finished in 4:23.34, while the B relay team finished the event in 5:31.16. Bowling had the fastest split for the A team, swimming the butterfly in 27.87, helping the A relay team to set a new season-best in the 400-yard medley relay. They beat their seed time of 4:27.28 by nearly four seconds. McGinty had the fastest split for the B relay team, clocking in at 28.68 for the butterfly.
On Friday, the Aggies A relay team finished in 18th place in the 200-yard medley relay, with a 2:00.77 time. Their fastest leg was their third, which clocked in at 27.21. The N.C. A&T B relay team finished that race in 20th place with a 2:23.06 final time.
Bowling competed in the 100-yard butterfly, an event which she has won in twice this season. She finished in 21st place in the race, but clocked in at 1:01.36, beating her seed time by .04 seconds. Her personal-best in that event is 1:01.17, which she set on Oct. 21 at Corbett Sports Center.
The Aggies will look to add to their score in the final day of the Highlander Invitational on Saturday and to continue to have strong performances in the pool.