DePauw swimming finishes strong at nationals

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The DePauw men and women's swimming and diving teams came home from Shenandoah, Texas knowing all their sweat, sore muscles and endless hours in the pool paid off.
The team competed in four days of competition to earn its final ranking of 13th with 105 overall points at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships. The women's team finished 27th with 19 points.
Every swimmer on the men's team walked away receiving an All-American honor and three swimmers who raced individually earned honorable mentions placing All-American (top 16 times). Sophomore Casey Hooker placed tenth in the 200-yard butterfly, breaking the school record in the event. Hooker also broke the school record in the 500-yard freestyle, in which he placed 13th.
Senior Matt Kukurugya finished ninth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 56.09 seconds breaking his own school record in this event. Freshman Alex Grissom placed 16th in the 500-freestyle earning All-American honors as well.
Two relays placed in the top eight. The 800-yard freestyle relay of Hooker, senior Rob Spichiger, Grissom and junior Matt Haeske - placed seventh earning All-American honors in school record time of 6:40:36.
The 400-yard freestyle relay team broke the school record during the national's preliminaries and again in the finals as they dropped .02 seconds in the second swim with a time of 3:00:41. This relay also achieved All-American honors as the team placed fifth. Unfortunately the Tigers' 200-medley relay was disqualified to an exchange violation.
Coach Cohen was excited to see everyone on the team receive All-American honors, but next year hopes to place in the top 10.
"Overall, it was a fantastic meet," Cohen said. "We still have to focus on not making mistakes and we have a couple things to clean up for next year."
Sophomore Alex Alfonso competed in the 200-yard individual medley placing 16th with a time of 1:52:71. Alfonso managed to drop just over a second from his meet qualifying time. Freshman Blake Lehmann placed 27th in the 50-freestyle improving his time from his prelim results.
Cohen looks forward to the future of the team as the freshman and sophomores made great strides forward. Lehmann had exciting split times in his relay and Alfonso has reinvented himself from a sprinter, now swimming backstroke as his main stroke, Cohen said.
"We're excited about where we are and where we are going," Cohen said.
The women's 400-yard freestyle relay placed 13th earning All-American honors. Freshman Caroline Bridges, senior Nicole Rossillo, sophomore Emily Weber, and freshman Erin Horne broke the school's record in this relay not once, but twice. Their final time was .34 seconds faster than their prelim time that originally broke the school record in the event.
This was the first time all women on the relay team synchronized and each got their best times according to Horne.
Bridges and Weber were among the two women who swam in individual events in Shenandoah, TX. Weber finished 18th in the 1,650 free in 17:26:54. Bridges earned honorable mention All-America with a 14th finish in the 100 free in 51.66 seconds.
Last year the women only had one senior, Catie Baker, qualify for nationals. Baker received All-American honors at nationals. This year the women's team qualified five women and had one All-American performance, an improvement from last year.
For four of the women, with the exception of Rossillo, not only was it their first time at nationals, but they will have future opportunities to qualify and return to the event. They are all looking forward to getting there again next year.
"We did well on paper, but there's a thought in the back of my mind that we could do so much better," Horne said. "I know what I want now. I want us to get to the next level and do even better next year."