By Melissa Maykut
OXFORD, Ohio - The Miami University women's swimming team set the pace in its home meet against the Akron Zips Friday afternoon. Winning 12 of the 14 events, the RedHawks cruised to a 175-114 victory over the Zips, earning their first home victory of the new year at the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center.
Senior Leah Thornton kicked off the meet for the RedHawks as she pushed off the wall to begin her starting leg of the 200-yard medley relay. Thornton and senior teammates Stacie Clagg, Bekka Westrick, and Maddie Kete won the relay in 1:45.52. Another RedHawk relay team consisting of sophomore Katie Bootsma, senior Maegan O'Connor, and juniors Nicole Wagner and Cynthia Donovan took second in the event in 1:47.37.
There were plenty of individual event victories to go around following the 200-medley relay, with the RedHawks winning 10 of the 12 individual event races. Head coach Dave Jennings says he thinks his team swam a solid race and is continuing to train well.
"They're tired, they've done a really nice job training, so I thought they raced well today," Jennings said. "Our distance groups look good right now and that's a good thing, and certainly, I think that our shorter events will come as we move forward in February."
Sophomore Stephanie Pearce paved the way for her teammates in the individual races, setting a personal-best time of 10:22.64 in the 1000 freestyle event. Senior Molly Tyler finished six seconds behind Pearce, taking second in the event in 10:28.23.
Senior Bekka Westrick was the only RedHawk to win two individual races, winning the 100 free in 52.10 and the 200 free in 1:52.51.
Bootsma took first in the 100 backstroke race, touching the wall in 58.00. O'Connor was right on Bootsma's heels though, finishing second in 58.14.
Meanwhile in the diving events, junior Nikki Craft finished second in the three-meter boards with a score of 273.37, finishing behind Akron's Carla McNamara, who finished with a final score of 289.35.
Clagg finished the meet with both a relay and an individual event victory, winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.97. Senior Stacia Schacter came out victorious in the 200 breast, winning the event in 2:23.80. It was her first collegiate victory in the 200. Unable to pull in front of her teammates, sophomore Gabbie Pettinichi placed second in both the 100 breast (1:06.52) and the 200 breast (2:25.11).
After recuperating from the 200-medley relay, Donovan sprinted to a first-place finish in the 50 free in 24.13, while teammate Courtney Collett paced herself to a first-place finish in the 500 free (5:05.59).
Miami dominated the final three events of the afternoon, with O'Connor winning the 100 butterfly (57.19) and Thornton taking the 200 IM with an exhibition time of 2:08.59.
Miami's 400 free relay team, consisting of Donovan, Westrick, and freshmen Sara Krueger and Natalie Rohr, swam an exhibition first-place time of 3:31.61 to end the meet and clinch the win for Miami.
The RedHawks will have a day off before returning to the water Sunday to compete in a dual meet with the men's team against the Buffalo Bulls. The meet will begin at 2 p.m. in the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center.