Taking the plunge: Tulane women’s swimming and diving places third at 2017 Phill Hansel Invitational

Illustrated by Anh Nguyen

Illustrated by Anh Nguyen

Tulane women’s swimming and diving continued its growth Nov. 16-18 as it placed third in the Phil Hansel Invitational. The team scored 277 points, recorded three NCAA B times and set two school records.

“I thought the team performed actually really well,” head coach Katie Robinson said. “I think they are putting together the things that we are working on in practice … That is really good as coaches to see that, with the team, the hard work on those details is coming to fruition.”

The team broke its first record during the competition on its way to a first-place finish in the 200 free relay finals on Thursday evening. Freshman Courtney Barker, junior Shelly Zelnick, junior Paris Zhang and senior Kaitlin Simpson combined for a 3:22.01 time. Simpson touched the wall at 1:31.83, beating the previous school record of 1:32.28.

“I love relays, so anytime I break a record of a relay it is so much more fun than individually,” Simpson said. “Just to start the meet that way, and start midseason off with a record, not only a record but also beating some other really big teams like Houston, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and Rice. That was really fun, just the hype to get everyone going.”

Later on Thursday evening, Zhang set a record during the 400 medley relay final. She posted a 50.96 in her 100 back portion of the event. The last record was broken on Saturday, as freshman Kate McDonald broke the school’s 200 breast record with a 2:02.64 in the preliminaries.

During the competition, the Green Wave posted three NCAA B standard times. Apart from the record-breaking individual performances that qualified as NCAA B times, Zelnick posted a 1:59.61 in the finals of the 200 IM and a 1:58.90 in the preliminaries of the 200 back, sophomore Olivia Johnson posted a 2:18.35 in the preliminaries and a 2:21.64 in the finals of the 200 IM, Zhang posted a 50.96 in the preliminaries of the 100 free and McDonald posted a 2:14.82 in the finals of the 200 breast. As a group, Zhang, McDonald, Zelnick and sophomore Gabby Viera totaled a 3:41.19  in the medley relay.

The Green Wave divers also contributed to Tulane’s performance at the tournament. Junior Anise Muir finished fourth with a score of 258.45 in the three-meter springboard and seventh in finals with a score of 227.60. Freshman Katie Nicol scored a 196.90 in the platform diving event.

Robinson credits new diving coach Tony Cortight for much of the team’s strong performance at the November invitational.

“Our divers did extremely well scoring some points on the diving boards and on the platform events,” Robinson said. “That was really great to see. They have been working really hard with our new diving coach, Tony [Cortight]. He’s done an extremely good job with them.”

After an impressive showing at Phil Hansel, the team is reflecting on its progress and looking ahead to future meets and tournaments.

“… As a team we are training at a higher level than we have been training compared to last year,” Robinson said. “And I think that that comes from a really healthy team dynamic, and our women are doing a really good job of just being a family and being a team unit and really supportive of each other and getting really excited when somebody else swims fast on the team and allowing that to build momentum throughout the entire meet.”

The Green Wave has now reached the halfway point in the season, and the team will have a seven-week break before its next meet at 5 p.m. on Jan. 19 in New Orleans against Loyola University New Orleans.

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