Both WKU swim teams finish second at Sun Belt championships

Lucas Aulbach

In a day that saw several lead changes and standout performances, the WKU men’s and womens swim teams both finished second on Saturday in the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Swimming and Diving Championships in Dallas.

After coming into the day with a 2.5-point lead, the men’s team traded the lead with Denver three times early before falling behind for good in later events. Denver completed a clean sweep, winning the women’s title as well.

“The whole thing came down to the last couple events,” Head Coach Bruce Marchionda said. “That’s about as close as it gets.”

WKU picked up some individual accolades on the women’s side, as Marchionda was named Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year. Senior Claire Donahue was also named Women’s Swimmer of the Year.

Donahue won the 200-yard butterfly Saturday, meaning that she has won both the 100 fly and 200 fly at the conference championships in each of the last four seasons.

Sophomore Hilary Mishler also won the 200-yard backstroke, setting school and conference records in the process.

The men’s lead coming into the day was cut significantly after a protest by Denver the night before overturned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, costing WKU 34 points of its cushion.

The strongest event of the day for the Toppers was the 200 backstroke, in which WKU placed five swimmers in the top eight.

Over the course of the four days, a total of 18 school records were set.

Swimmers have one more chance to post NCAA qualifying times at the NCAA Last Chance Invite from Feb. 26-28, and those that have qualified will head to the NCAA National Championships in late March.