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Swimming & Diving — Baykova leads the Wildcats at ECAC Championships in Pittsburgh

By Andrew Yourell, Staff Writer

UNH sent four swimmers to compete in the ECAC Championships at the University of Pittsburgh’s Trees Pool this weekend. The meet began on Friday, February 27 and wrapped up on Sunday, March 1. Pittsburgh won the women’s side of the meet with a score of 590.5 points, but, despite only sending four swimmers, the Wildcats logged an eighth place total of 189 points.

Freshman Liza Baykova led the charge for the ‘Cats, notching three first-place finishes. The Moscow native went undefeated in the sprint freestyles. Katie Mann also won an event, and sophomore Sarah Broderick and freshman Jessica Harper both made it to the podium, with top three finishes.

“The difference between AE and ECAC is huge, the atmosphere is different,” said Baykova. She was recently named the America East Rookie of the Year, and added to her honors on Sunday when she was crowned the ECAC Women’s Swimmer of the Meet.

In the 50-yard freestyle, Baykova coasted to a seventh place finish in the preliminaries, in 23.58 seconds. In the finals she kicked into gear, slamming the panel in 23.23 seconds. Her time of 50.63 in the 100-yard freestyle was also worthy of a gold medal.

Baykova’s premiere race, however, is the 200-yard freestyle. In a blistering 1:47.54, Baykova shattered the ECAC record of 1:48.50 set by UNH standout Jenni Roberts last season. The time is just shy of the 1:47.48 that Baykova swam at the America East Championships, which was also an NCAA provisional cut.

Mann also shone for the Wildcats, defending her 400-yard individual medley title for the third year in a row. She shaved off several seconds from her preliminary time, clocking in at 4:10.92. She followed up the victory with a second place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Sophomore Sarah Broderick swam with Baykova in the sprint freestyles. Her 23.47 time in the 50-yard freestyle was good for a seventh-place finish. She came in fourth in the 200-yard freestyle, in a time of 1:50.59, before making it to the podium with a bronze-medal effort of 51.08 in the 100-yard freestyle.

Freshman Jessica Harper rounded out the UNH quartet. She was the first Wildcat to swim, earning the runner-up spot in the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 4:55.61. She followed the race up with a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle in a career-best 1:50.19. On the final day of the meet, she registered a 2:00.61 in the 200-yard backstroke, taking the bronze medal.

“I’m very proud of all of them, they are the best teammates,” Mann said. Broderick and Harper’s seasons ended Sunday night, while Baykova and Mann will wait to see if their provisional cuts are fast enough to make the NCAA Championships.

If the duo’s times are fast enough, they will swim at the NCAA Championship Meet, which will take place at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, from March 19 to March 21.

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