The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Both swim and dive teams finish fourth at WIAC

After three days in the pool, the UW-Eau Claire swim and dive team took fourth overall at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships on both the men’s and women’s sides. The championships were held Feb. 14-16 at Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer (Wis.).
While Head Coach Art Brandt said he was excited about many of his athletes’ performances, one swimmer seemed to stand apart from the rest in terms of last weekend’s meet: junior Alex Card. The swimmer was the only Blugold to automatically qualify for nationals and he did much more than that.

After day one of the meet when both the men and women’s teams were in second place, Card carried the team — winning the men’s 200­­-yard individual medley. It was Card’s second consecutive year winning this title with a time of 1:52.36.

“Card was just lights out,” Brandt said. “He’s an interesting guy. You don’t know what he’s going to do, but he just went really fast.”

On Feb. 15, day two of the competition, the women’s team dropped to third place and the men’s to fourth. However, Card continued to see success when he won the 100-yard breaststroke title.

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His time of 56.38 seconds in the final round gave him the win. But earlier that day in the preliminaries, he set a school and conference meet record with a time of 55.78. The time automatically qualified him for the NCAA Div. III championships.

Senior diver Nick Badilla accomplished a personal best with a score of 471.90 in the one-meter dive, which left him in the runner-up position. Badilla said even though it was a really tough loss, he was proud of how he dove, both in the preliminaries and finals.

However, his personal success was only one of the highlights for Badilla. He also enjoyed doing his part in cheering his heart out for his teammates and supporting Card.

“The kid works hard, he is a phenomenal athlete and he’s a wonderful teammate,” Badilla said. “I really have enjoyed being with him the last three years and I’ve seen him grow into a phenomenal swimmer and I think he’s going to be a force to reckon with.”

On the women’s side, senior Grace Fair, junior Kristin Peters, freshman Sidney Fairbrother and sophomore Lisa Reed had the team’s top finish of the day when their 800-yard freestyle relay earned the runner-up spot with a time of 7:48.36.

Peters said this race was the highlight of the meet for her but as far as the team goes she said, “Everyone just wanted to support the team and do their best and I think a lot of people accomplished that.”

The championships wrapped up on Feb. 16, leaving both Blugold teams with a fourth place finish. Highlights of the final day came when Card was named the men’s swimmer of the meet and broke yet another school and WIAC record after he swam a time of 2:01.57 in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Sophomore Lisa Reed also earned a first place title with her time of 17:42.59 in the 1,650-yard freestyle. The race was particularly special for Brandt.

“My favorite race was Lisa Reed’s mile,” she said. “She was seated third against the two women from Whitewater. Lisa was about eight seconds behind Kincade (Whitewater) and she won the race by four-tenths of a second.”

The Blugold divers will venture to Calvin College in Grand Rapids (Mich.) to compete in Regionals on March 1-2.

Card will compete in the NCAA Division III Championships in Shenandoah, Texas March 20-23. He currently has the fastest times in the country, but that could change once all conference meets around the country wrap up. Brandt said he hopes that by Feb. 25 when all conference times are entered, Card will have a teammate going with him to nationals.

In conference meets, athletes can receive either an “A” cut or a “B” cut. An “A” cut means an automatic trip to nationals, like Card earned. A “B” cut, however, means waiting for a possible invitation to participate in the national tournament which depends on the outcomes of conference meets throughout the country.

“It would be nice to have another guy to go with him, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” Brandt said. “It’s a really convoluted formula and I can’t even begin to explain how the NCAA decides.”

Whether other Blugold swim and dive athletes will compete at nationals is yet to be determined, but for now Brandt said he is excited about the weekend the team had and looks forward to Card’s trip to nationals.

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