After more than a month off from competition, the UNH swimming and diving team returned to their winning ways. The winning streak started on Jan. 21 as the Wildcats swam past America East foe Binghamton and followed up their New York road trip a day later with a win at Niagara.
Most recently they clashed with their north-of-the-border rival, Maine and came away victorious finishing their regular season record at 5-3 overall, 2-1 in America East meets. Led by Liza Baykova, the Wildcats wrapped up the regular season last Friday with a 166-104 win over the Black Bears and improved to 10-0 in their last 10 matchups with Maine. They also have won five straight dual meets dating back to Oct. 29 against Central Connecticut State University.
“It was a great meet with some really strong swims,” head coach Josh Willman said.
In doing so, Baykova not only continued to improve by pacing the Stanley M. Wallace Pool in the 200-yard freestyle, but also has established herself for the America East Championships as a notable favorite.
For the rest of the Wildcats, the team was able to place first in all seventeen events. Starting in the 200 medley relay, Sarah Broderick, Milana Evsten, Colby Harvey and Baykova finished with a time of 1-minute:46.75.
Baykova went on to finish first in two other events including the 200 freestyle. She shattered the original pool record with a time of 1:49.64. The original record that was previously held was by former Wildcat Sydney Tribou set at the 2013 America East Championships. Her time was 1:50.03.
“Baykova’s pool record was a great way to start off the meet,” Willman said.
Two other participants of the 200 medley relay, Evsten and Harvey, each won their perspective swim events as well. Evsten captured the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:05.30 while Harvey swam to a first-place finish in the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.83.
Brittany Moffatt continued her strong season by winning the longest swim event of the day in the 1,000 freestyle with a time of 10:32.63. She also went on to take the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:09.76. That set the tone for other Wildcats such as Vivienne El-Sibay who took first in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:07.53.
Corinne Carbone and Sarah Olver also found the podium in a convincing win against the Black Bears. Carbone swam to a first-place finish in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:06.49 and Olver followed with a time of 2:24.76 in the 200 breaststroke. Carbone also went on to win the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:09.08.
In the final relay event, the Wildcats also struck gold with a time of 1:37.24 led by Baykova, Broderick, Kaitlin Cahill and Harvey.
“We used [the meet] to refine some elements of our racing in preparation for America East Championships in two weeks. Most all the team hit seasons best which is a good indication of how taper is going,” Willman said.
Erin Cullather also stole the show in the diving events as she took first in both the 1-meter and 3-meter contests. She scored 206.10 points in the 1-meter and 210.07 in the 3-meter.
For UNH, the regular season may have come to a close, but a heavy test now begins with the conference championships right around the corner. The Wildcats next take the pool at the America East Championships at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, beginning Thursday, Feb. 9 and concluding Sunday, Feb. 12.