By Dalton Ray
After a sweep of Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Jan. 4 the Louisville men’s and women’s swimming and diving team earned their first win of the 2014 calendar year. The men’s team now checks in at number eight in the nation and the women not too far behind at number 13 overall. The season to date has been a very successful one for both teams as they look to start AAC play.
The men’s team won their first two meets of the year against Xavier and Tennessee by scores of 189-70 and 167-132 before suffering their first loss to the hands of North Carolina 161-186 back in November. Defending national champion Joao De Lucca won multiple events in the Cardinal’s wins.
The women’s team matched the men’s hot start to the year and raised them one as they defeated all three opponents of Xavier, Tennessee, and North Carolina with a combined score of 578-340. The women also took place in the SMU Classic in Dallas and finished third thanks to junior Tanja Kylliainen who won three events, which earned her Swimmer of the Meet honors.
The teams were invited to the Michigan Invitational, held in Ann Arbor. The hosts at the time boasted the number one overall men’s team and the number 23 overall women’s team in the nation, providing a large task ahead of the Cards. Winners for the men included sophomore Bryan Draganosky in the 1650-free, junior Caryle Blondell in the 100-free, senior Kameron Chastain in the 200-breast and a 400-relay team of Blondell, Aaron Young, Joao De Lucca and Brooks Wilmoth. Taking home victories for the women’s side were freshman Mackenzie Buss in the 200-back, senior Gisselle Kohoyda in the 200-breast, Tanja Kylliainen in the 200-free and the 400-realy team of Kelsi Worrell, Krissie Brandenburg, Andrea Kneppers and Johanna Cowley.
The USA Short Course Nations were next on the Cards’ schedule as they looked to provide a strong performance on a large stage. In the men’s 200-free Joao De Lucca set a new championship record with a time of 1:31.65, just beating out Darian Townsend’s 1:31.93. Only eight men have ever broken the 1:32.00 barrier in the 200-free. Not to be out done the next night sophomore Kelsi Worrell went out and was also crowned a National Champion with her 200-fly time of 1:54.12.
Other notable performances included the women’s 200-medley relay team finished second with a time of 1:38.07 posted by Krissie Brandenburg, Andrea Cottrell, Kelsi Worrell and Rachael Lewis. The men’s 200-medley relay met a new U of L achievement when Grigory Tarasevich, Kameron Chastain, Aaron Young and Caryle Blondell combined for a third place time of 1:26.40.
On Saturday the women faced and defeated both Cincinnati and Houston while the men faced and defeated Cincinnati, as Houston does not have a men’s team. For the women Worrell was victorious in multiple events, taking first in the 400-medley relay, the 200-fly and the 100-free. For the men Tarasevich was a part of winning the 400-medley relay, the 200-back and 400-free relay. De Lucca took the 100-free and the 200-free.
“The challenge for today was to race the way we want to race at championship time… a championship rehearsal,” U of L coach Arthur Albiero said.
With a taste of championship success last year through the efforts of De Lucca the Cardinals have their sights on De Lucca bringing friends at this year’s national championship.