CLEARWATER, Fla. – In what turned out to be one of the most memorable conference championship meets in the program's short history, the Saint Leo men's and women's swim teams finished fourth in the Sunshine State Conference Championships at the Long Center.
The final day of the meet saw the Lions shine their brightest with Saint Leo record-setting finishes in the women's 1650 Free, 200 Back and 200 Fly and the men's new marks in the 100 Free and the 400 Free relay.
The highlight of the meet came when Matheus Assis shocked the traditional SSC powerhouses and was named the Conference's Male Swimmer of the Meet. During the course of the four-day event, Assis won all three of his individual swims as he broke four SSC meet records and two overall SSC records. He was also the lead-off leg to the 400 Free relay that broke the conference and overall SSC record earning an automatic qualifying time for the NCAA meet.
Assis closed out his Championships swim by dominating the 44.14 100 Free, setting a new conference and overall record in the process.
"We literally need a new record board after tonight," said an elated Coach Paul Mangen. "I could not be happier with how the vast majority of our Lions swam and competed this weekend. Our girls were breaking records and our guys joined them by breaking SSC meet and conference records. The 400 Free relays were very significant with our ladies sealing the deal on beating Rollins, something we set our sights on at the beginning of the year, and the meet closing by the men leading start to finish, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA meet. Those were our goals we set and we executed. I'm very proud of all of these Lions."
Other highlights included Kaitlyn Hite's 12th place 1650 Free swim with a time of 17:55.33, a new school record. Kristy Marques and Lindsay Albanese were also 14th and 16th, respectively.
Erin Bobsein placed eighth in the finals of the 200 Back, setting a new school record of 2:07.34, while Katie Sanacore was 16th. On the men's side, Rhet Rheinlander was eighth in the 200.
Woman 100 Free saw Bianca Muniz place 12th and Isabella Bains finish 16th.
In the women's 200 Breast, Sandra Stopczyńska won the consultation finals by finishing ninth, while Paula Carvajal was 16th. On the men's side of the 200 Breast Carlos Araque finished 14th.
As the day continued, in the women's 200 Fly Chantal Bouthiller set a new school record going 2:09.41 earning a seventh place spot, while Chloe Pellican was 10th. In the men's 200 Fly Kieran Advena was 15th.
Into the final relays, the women's 400 Free relay of Hite, Kristy Marques, Pellican, and Lindsey Albanese finished sixth, while Muniz, Bains, Stopczyńska, Carvajal were 12th.
Another defining moment came in the men's 400 free when Assis, Keown, Trenda, and Alberto-Requejo won the event in SSC championship record and overall conference record time of 2:57.97 in a result that produced an 'A' Cut.
An 'A' Cut means that a person has produced an automatic qualifying time for the NCAA Tournament. The time is set by averaging the third place time at NCAA Championships over the last 3 years. Once you qualify for an 'A' Cut you are in the NCAA meet and can swim the event that you qualified in as well as any other event that you would have a 'B' Cut.
'B' cuts are also called provisional cuts. It means that you are qualified to compete at the national meet, but you would have to get invited into the meet in an event by making the cut.
While already guaranteed spots in the NCAA Championship, Coach Mangen and his teams will return from Clearwater and prepare to swim in the national championships. Invitations to the NCAA Championships will be set out this week.