Up until Wednesday, the Idaho swimming and diving team hadn’t competed against any other team since November. However, the Vandals still started the new year in great form as they beat WAC opponent New Mexico State 167-133 at the UI Swim Center.
“We were a little rusty in spots but we also saw some really good things too and I’m pretty darn excited about that,” Idaho coach Mark Sowa said.
The Vandals improved their record to 4-4 on the season. Next up, Idaho will host Grand Canyon at 1 p.m. Jan. 24.
“As coaches, we’ve been dying to watch them race because we need to see where we’re at,” Sowa said. “You can only see so much from training until we get up on the blocks and get up on the boards.”
Since there were no scheduled competitions for almost two months, Sowa said his team was able to focus on training. He also said there is no substitute for racing a quality opponent. The Vandals won 10 of the 16 events Wednesday.
Senior Rachel Millet won three individual events, including the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 52.10 seconds, the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.97 and the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:05.58. She was also a part of the 200 medley relay team, which Idaho won with a time of 1:45.71. The team also featured freshman Cara Jernigan, junior Jamie Sterbis and senior Erica Anderson.
“I mean obviously, I always want to go faster,” Millet said. “But for right now, where we are and after coming off a long, pretty good training session, it was pretty decent. So I’m happy with my times.”
Millet wasn’t the only winner for the Vandals though. Freshman distance swimmer Christine
Renzini won the 1000 freestyle, Anderson won the 100 breaststroke, Sterbis won the 200 butterfly, junior Sami Hendricks won the 50 freestyle and Jernigan won the 200 breaststroke.
“A couple times they came out on us and we didn’t panic,” Sowa said. “We swam our races. We did make a couple mistakes. That’s alright. Those are things that we can absolutely work on and what I like is there was a heck of a lot of poise with all of them today, and it’s still a young group.”
While the Vandals outswam the Aggies, New Mexico State proved to be better on the diving board. New Mexico State’s Lauren Reifel won both diving events — the 3-meter and the 1-meter.
The Aggies used two divers while the Vandals used four for each diving event. Three out of the four Idaho divers were freshmen.
Idaho’s Nikki Imanaka took second in the 3-meter dive and Maren Seljevold took second in the 1-meter dive. Both are freshmen at Idaho.
“We graduated three of the best divers in the conference last year,” Sowa said. “We didn’t expect to be there yet. Junior Delaney (Peugh) is doing a heck of a good job leading that group and we got three young and hungry freshmen, and they are improving.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org