SWIMMING: Swanson, Waits efforts fall short as men finish third in MVC

Wes Watt

On day two of the three-day Missouri Valley Conference Championship, Western found itself only five points out of second place.

The team was trounced earlier this season by second place Southwest Missouri State, and had dropped a close loss to first place Southern Illinois. Once again, the Hilltoppers weren’t able to beat either team, as they finished third.

Sophomore swimmer Karl Swanson and junior Chad Waits decided they needed to step up and have great performances to try to lead their team to a great finish.

“I knew it was going to be close,” Swanson said. “I did all I could to help the team out.”

Swanson set a school record in the 400-yard individual medley on Friday with a time of 3 minutes 56.94 seconds, then swam his way to a record in the 1650-yard freestyle on Saturday with a time of 15:32.96.

Waits couldn’t stand idle and watch his teammate get all the records. Instead he grabbed two of his own. On Friday, Waits set a school record in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 48:53 seconds, and in the 200-yard fly with a time of 1:48:75 seconds on Saturday.

But it wasn’t enough.

The record-breaking performances were enough to get the duo named MVC Co-Swimmers of the Year. But it wasn’t enough to pull Western out of third place.

“I think everyone did their best,” Swanson said. “We couldn’t help how the other team swam.”

Going into the last day of competition, Western found itself just 4.5 points away from second place. The Toppers seemingly had second locked up by outscoring SMS in every event with one exception: the breaststroke.

The exception cost Western more than 60 points in a single event and helped push Western out of second place.

“The breaststroke was the killer,” swim coach Bill Powell said. “We had one in the final and they had five.”

Despite a third place finish and a disastrous second half of the season, Powell said he is still proud of the way his team finished.

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