BUIES CREEK - Things were definitely out of the norm on Friday afternoon at the Johnson Aquatic Center. Each member of the North Carolina A&T swimming team competed in at least one event that was not her primary race.
The Aggies were able to overcome the challenge, and had a successful meet, due to the team's ability to come together and support each other. Throughout the meet, the A&T swimmers gave each other advice and words of encouragement, which helped them shake any doubts or concerns they had on their ability to perform in non-specialty heats.
"The athletes are very involved in each other's swims, and inspiring each other, it makes a big difference," said A&T coach Shawn Hendrix. "And it's important to the team, and they tell each other that it's important that they do that."
The Aggies (2-15, 2-11 CCSA) left the pool with a 163-36 loss against the Camels, and a first place finish in the 100-yard butterfly by junior Lauren Bowling. The Aggies also had five third-place finishes in the contest. Bowling had a strong finish to beat Camels swimmer Maggie Pogue by .25 seconds for a 1:02.18 final time in the 100-yard butterfly. It was the third time that Bowling has won the 100-yard butterfly this season.
"It was hard, I was really trying, but I had a lot of motivation because I really wanted to win it," Bowling said. "That last little bit, I was really trying to push through. It was hard, but I'm proud of myself."
Some of the out-of-the-norm placements on Friday afternoon were sophomore Erika Eiseman (Fly, IM) swimming the 200-yard freestyle, and Danielle Jackson (Breast/Free) and Christian Hill (Distance Free) swimming the 200-yard IM.
"I put people in events that I had never seen them race before, and then I put people I in a couple of events that I wanted to see," Hendrix said. "At least everybody had one event that is their normal event, to see if they could also mentally refocus back to swimming that individual event."
In addition to her 100-yard butterfly comfort race, Bowling also swam the 500-yard freestyle, the longest event she's competed in this season. Despite not competing in the race frequently, she completed the race in 6:16.52.
"They tell us not to make excuses, but going into that right after swimming the 100 fly, I was extremely exhausted," Bowling added.
Sophomore Aaron Miles set a new personal best in the 200 IM relay, posting a 3:12.2 finish for sixth place. Sophomore LaBraya Milton, in her second meet of the season after missing the fall semester due to knee surgery, performed well. She dropped time from her 50-yard freestyle, and also competed in the 200-yard freestyle relay, helping the Aggies win third place.
"It was her first time swimming the 100 breast and her first time being on a relay," Hendrix said of Milton. "She has a lot of talent, and to not swim first semester, all the things that she worked so hard on is paying off now."
The Aggies placed third in the 200-yard medley relay, with time of 2:07.83. Hill competed in the 1,000-yard meter relay, which equaled 40 lengths of the pool, clocking in at 12:13.97. In the 50-yard freestyle, the Aggies finished third through fifth place, with sophomore Akaela McGinty taking third placed with a 30.57 run.
Freshman Jackson, who is a freestyler, had the best 200 IM relay for the Aggies, completing the race in 2:37.43. Jackson also placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke, touching the wall in 1:14.92.
The Aggies came in third in the 200-yard freestyle relay, as Hill, Milton, Sara Simmons and Courtney Wilkins combined for a 2:08.42 time.
The Aggies will compete in their final regular season meet of the season on Saturday, taking on Campbell, Georgia Southern, Liberty, Howard, Davidson, and Radford at the CCSA Duals on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Davidson, N.C.