The Gustavus women’s swimming and diving team entered the final day of competition Saturday at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships with a slim 5.5 point lead over third-place Carleton but could not make it hold, dropping 45 points to the Knights on the final day. Carleton finished second with 617.5 points. The Knights and Gusties (578 points) finished well behind defending conference champion St. Olaf, which racked up 763.5 points to take the title.
Carleton started well, overtaking the Gusties in the first race of the day, the 1650 freestyle. Knight senior Elise Knoche finished second to Macalester’s Heather Lendway, while Elizabeth Hartman was the best Gustavus finisher, placing sixth in a time of 18:29.12.
The Gusties responded in the 200 backstroke as Sara Pfau and Katie Haynes finished 2-3 to St. Olaf’s Carly Knoell. Pfau clocked a 2:10.71 time, while Haynes was not far behind with a 2:11.50 clocking.
Carleton picked up three of the top four spots in the 100 freestyle to put ground between themselves and the Gusties, who had only representative in the A final. Junior Laura Watkins finished sixth with a time of 54.73 seconds. The Gusties did have three swimmers in the B final, placing tenth, 12th and 15th, respectively.
The Gusties were unable to make up any ground in the 200 breaststroke as they were shut out of the A final and had only one swimmer in the B final as first-year Emily Amundsen finished 16th in a 2:39.00 clocking.
Five Gustavus swimmers, led by Britta Nelson (4th, 2:16.73) and Yoshi Ludwig (6th, 2:18.41), scored in the 200 butterfly, allowing the Gusties to make up a small amount of ground. The Gustavus effort was also helped by a fifth-place finish by Dani Wright in the 1-meter diving competition. Carleton did not have a diver finish in the top-16.
Gustavus, which had seen its chance at a runner-up finish slip away steadily during the evening saw that result confirmed by the final race of the championships, the 400 freestyle relay. Carleton led at every split to take the title by 0.86 seconds over St. Olaf in a “B” qualifying time of 3:35.03. The Gusties rallied over the final two legs but could not overcome a two-second deficit to Saint Ben’s and finished fourth behind the Blazers.
The Gusties will now train for the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships which will take place March 16-18 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Carleton is the host institution.