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GCU Club Swimming defeats NAU in Winter Classic

GCU Club Swimming team group photo by pool
February 14, 2020

By: Julie Laugel/GCU Staff

A 6,000-foot elevation increase? No effect on the GCU Club Swimming team.

The Lopes traveled up to Flagstaff to defeat Northern Arizona University at the NAU Winter Classic and record two new event national qualifying times.

“There were a lot of kids that did better than I expected because of the elevation,” said GCU Club Swimming Assistant Coach Rachel Newcomb. “It was good to see them put what they learned in practice and have been working on into actual play.”

Amelia Portin broke a GCU Club Swimming record for the women in the 100 Butterfly with a time of 1:07.69.

Noah Tople and Riley Burke were the two swimmers to make national qualifying times in new events. Tople came in first place in three different events, and qualified in the 50 Butterfly. Burke came in third in the 50 Breaststroke to qualify with a time of 35.34.

“I don’t think going into this meet we were looking for records,” said GCU Club Swimming Head Coach Jeremy Phung. “As a team, we just performed better and were out there supporting each other, so that was encouraging to see.”

GCU Club Swimming Freshman Brooks Birkinbine placed in all four of his events, including two gold, a silver and a bronze finish. Brooks was just fractions of a second shy from making national qualifying times in both the 100 Freestyle and 100 Backstroke.

“Going into (the meet), I was not expecting the best results – just because it was like a 6,000-foot elevation gain,” said Birkinbine. “I am very close to qualifying in all of my events, so all in all, things went really well.”

“He may not have qualified, but with where he’s at with his training and times, I think he did exceptional at the meet,” said Phung. “Many leagues have an altitude adjustment time, and if we adjusted Brooks’ times, I think he would have qualified fairly easily.”

The Lopes look to add more national qualifying events at the UCLA Winter Invitational on Feb. 29. The events start at 1:30 pm at Spieker Aquatics Center in Los Angeles.

Want to know more about the NAU Winter Classic? Visit the GCU Club Swimming page for the full results!