Lopes take 4th place at UCLA Winter Invitational
By: Julie Laugel/GCU Staff
Despite having one of the final two meets reduced to an intrasquad scrimmage, the Grand Canyon University Club Swimming team posted seven new national qualifying times, and qualified for over 30 national events in the final eight days of the regular season.
The Lopes accomplished the goal with a strong team placement at the University of California, Los Angeles Winter Invitational a week ago, then an even stronger performance at the Canyon Classic, the first meet they hosted which – due to last-minute cancellations – was reduced to an intrasquad scrimmage.
UCLA Winter Invitational – 4th Place finish
In their largest meet of the season thus far, the Lopes took fourth place out of 14 teams at the UCLA Winter Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 29, and added two more swimmers who made national qualifying times.
“I think we did great, and a lot of people swam some amazing times,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Phung. “We had some people not qualify, which was disappointing. There’s a lot to look forward to in big meets, but building relationships and being intentional with what we’re doing outside of the water is the biggest part that I enjoy.”
Men – 5th place
Sam Jones was the sole Lope to place first in any event, taking the gold in the 200 Freestyle. Brooks Birkinbine took seventh in the 200 Breaststroke and broke the GCU program record with a time of 2:28.17.
In only his first year as a member of GCU Club Swimming, Roy Moore qualified for nationals in three separate events and was a fraction of a second short from a GCU program record in the 50 Butterfly.
“I was thinking it was possible to make qualifying times in all the events,” said Moore. “I was most surprised that I qualified for the 100 Butterfly because I hardly trained for it.”
“I’m excited for what he swam this weekend,” said Phung, “I love having people like Roy, who are fast and want to keep swimming and competing, but aren’t looking for the commitment that it takes on the Division I program.”
Women – 3rd place
Grace Smeltzer and Lindsay Fisser were the two new GCU swimmers to qualify for nationals, both making it in the 50 Breaststroke.
Madison Hotmer broke the GCU Club Swimming record in the 500 Freestyle with a time of 5:50.02. Amelia Portin also broke a program record and qualified for nationals with a 2:31.58 time in the 200 Butterfly.
Junior Iliana Kaiser swam in four individual events for GCU, making national qualifying times in the 50 Freestyle, 100 Freestyle and 100 Breaststroke. She still hopes to qualify in the 100 Butterfly and beat her national times from last year.
“I got a personal record in my 50 freestyle time, and dropped time in my 100 Freestyle so that was really cool to see,” said Kaiser. “It was really fun to have the whole team there cheering everyone on.”
Canyon Classic Intrasquad Scrimmage
The Canyon Classic, which originally included Northern Arizona University and Southern Utah University, was reduced to an intrasquad scrimmage due to the other schools dropping out at the last minute.
GCU had 33 new events qualify for nationals, including five new swimmers with national qualifying times. The team also broke eight Lopes’ program records.
“This was easily our best meet of the season,” said Phung. “We now have half of the team qualified for nationals, which was a big goal for me.”
Antonio Diianna was one of the new swimmers to qualify for nationals – qualifying in the 50 Freestyle and 100 Freestyle.
“Friday was Antonio’s one-year anniversary of being cancer-free,” said Phung. “He’s only been swimming with us for the past three months and is swimming almost the best times of his life. We weren’t expecting him to qualify, but he qualified in two events, which is really cool.”
The GCU Club Swimming members who made national qualifying times advance to the 2020 Collegiate Club Swim and Dive Nationals on April 10 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Interested in GCU Club Swimming? Contact Head Coach Jeremy Phung for more information!