Feb. 18, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Although MIT women's swimming and diving was unable to reduce the gap with first-place Springfield College during the second day of the NEWMAC Championships, the Engineers solidified their spot in second with another fantastic performance in the water. Freshman Nicole O'Keeffe headlined the effort after destroying the meet record in the 400 IM by nearly seven seconds.
The team of Julianna Edwards, Kate Thornton, O'Keeffe and Stephanie Sidelko opened the finals session on Saturday with an incredible victory in the 200 medley relay. After conceding the 400 medley by a razor-thin margin to Springfield on Friday, the Engineers returned the favor by out-touching the Pride, 1:50.45-1:50.55. Thornton split 30.57 on the breaststroke leg, while O'Keeffe's meet-best 26.28 split in the fly set the stage for her record-breaking performance in the next event.
Springfield freshman Kristen Schadow grabbed an early lead in the 400 IM with a powerful first two legs, but O'Keeffe thundered back into the race with a strong effort on the breaststroke leg before turning on the jets in the final 100 yards. Her last 50 split registered 29.28 as she touched the wall with a winning mark of 4:34.96; an NCAA "B" cut and a seven-second improvement on the previous meet standard.
Sophomore Sasha Brophy also made it to the top of the medal stand with a phenomenal swim in the 200 free. Brophy led the entire field by nearly one full second after an explosive first 50 propelled her well in front of the field. Brophy refused to let up, actually building upon her lead over the next 50, while setting a personal record for the 100 free in the process. While the chase pack tightened it grip during the final lap, Brophy held on for the win and an NCAA "B" cut with a clip of 1:54.32.
After smashing her own school mark in the 500 free on Friday, Thornton went back to the record books to set a new mark in the 100 breast. Although the MIT junior finished second to NCAA qualifier Moria Price (Springfield), she broke one of the oldest records on the swimming and diving logs with a time of 1:08.26. The previous record was set by Tina Grosskopf in 1992 (1:08.94).