SAINT LEO, Fla. – Gasparilla pirates may have owned the high seas of Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon, but the Saint Leo University men's and women's swim teams owned the waters of the Saint Leo Aquatic Center in their victories against the visiting Rollins Tars. The senior swim meet featured sunny skies, promotional giveaways, and plenty of chanting for Saint Leo as the "Liquid Lions" defeated the Rollins men, 183-72, and the women, 153-109.
With Sunshine State Conference Championships just over two weeks away, the No. 7 Saint Leo men's team controlled each lane of the Bowman pool, defeating Rollins in every race of the meet. The Lions celebrated two outstanding seniors on the day in Carlos Araque and Michael Cozzi, both of whom were major contributors in the water.
In comparison, the Saint Leo women, who took the title home in nine of the 14 events, highlighted their seniors as well. Katie David, Sarah Earls, and Sandra Stopczynska each spent a competitive day in the pool as they enjoyed their last home meet donning the green and gold.
On the men's side, Michael Cozzi, who earned three wins on the afternoon, jumpstarted the afternoon with a win in the 1000 Yard Freestyle at a time of 10:04.24. He then snagged the title to the 50 Yard Breaststroke, and moments later, claimed a victory in the 500 Yard Freestyle with times of 27.80 and 4:54.12, respectively.
Soon after Cozzi set the bar, freshman Matheus Assis struck gold, starting with a 51.30 win in the 100 Yard Butterfly. Minutes later, he finished with a time of 46.55 to declare a victory in the 100 Yard Freestyle, and soon after, completed the 100 Yard IM with a time of 51.63 to take home his third crown of the day.
With the Lions dominating the pool, freshman Pawel Trenda took home two wins on the day, while Patrick Ceddia, Milton Alberto-Requejo, and Gabe Keown also snagged one win apiece.
On the women's side, freshman Erin Bobsein sparked the Lion's effort with two victories in the meet. Dominating the 50 Yard Backstroke, she earned a time of 28.67 to claim her first win of the afternoon, and later, she finished the 100 Yard Backstroke with a time of 1:00.57 to oust the next-fastest swimmer by nearly five seconds.
Senior Sandra Stopczynska also contributed heavily to Saint Leo's record, claiming two victories in the last home meet of her college career. Finishing with times of 32.14 and 1:10.27, she took home the titles to the 50 Yard Breaststroke and 100 Yard Breaststroke, respectively.
While both men and women dominated individually, the Lions' relay teams excelled as well. For the men, Rhet Rheinlander, Araque, Keown and Alberto-Requejo claimed the 200 Yard Medley Relay title, while Alberto-Requejo, Cozzi, Assis, and Rheinlander teamed up to secure the win in the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay. For the women, Bobstein, Stopczynska, Bouthillier, and Bains earned the title in the 200 Yard Medley Relay.
In less than three weeks, the Lions will take the next step in their journey to the NCAA National Championships as they compete in the Sunshine State Conference Championships in Clearwater, Fla. Hosted by Nova Southeastern University, the four-day battle is set to begin on February 13th at 8:00 a.m.