The Ball State swimming and diving teams returned from their midseason break to their biggest test to date: the 26th annual Miami Invitational in Oxford, Ohio. The teams set many personal bests, as both men and women finished in third place.
Day one of the invitational started strong with the eighth-fastest time in school history in the women’s 200 freestyle relay. The team of freshmen Apsara Sakbun and Makayla Miller, sophomore Alexa McDonald and senior Peighton Gilbert finished second in the event with a time of 1:34.55. On the men’s side, senior Ben Andrew set a personal best of 1:51.94 in the 200 individual medley. That moved him into fifth all time at Ball State in the event.
Sakbun set a lifetime best in the 50 free in preliminary qualification earlier in the day, and in the finals, she took the win and moved to fifth in school history with a time of 23.42, taking an additional .06 seconds off of her lifetime best from earlier in the day.
“It was a fantastic meet,“ head coach Jeremy Agnew said. “For a midseason benchmark, the team competed extremely hard. We battled through a little adversity.”
In an odd turn of events, day two was over before it really started. Due to issues with the pool and fear of a potential contamination, the finals were cancelled. This problem didn’t prevent a little history from being made, though. Andrew broke his own school record with a time of 48.37 in the 100 fly. He also moved to second all time in the 100 breaststroke at Ball State. Freshman Sydney Dygert moved to occupy the eighth and ninth all-time positions in the 400 individual medley and 100 fly, respectively. Freshman Shelby Crist moved to fifth in the 100 back, and freshman Jared Holder moved to seventh in the same event.
The freshmen being able to come in and be competitive immediately was something Agnew said he was hoping to see from day one.
“Our freshmen class is big,” Agnew said. “We have 20 freshmen across both the men and women teams, so they have to be depended on right away. We recruited them with the purpose that they would come in and make an impact. So, to see them stepping up and racing at a high level like this is really exciting.”
Day three was also delayed over three hours due to issues with the pool, but the delays, and ultimately cancellation, of sessions gave the teams a chance to grow as a unit and tested their ability to adapt.
“They’ve got to handle change,” Agnew said. “We looked at it as an opportunity to get more rest. We came back the next day and found out the morning was cancelled and said, ‘OK, this is a chance to enjoy your teammates. Relax, and enjoy your team and be ready for tonight.’”
Senior Logan Ackley tied for first in the men’s 200 backstroke, coming just .6 seconds away from breaking his own school record in the event.
The swim and dive teams now get over a month off during the semester break. The women host Toledo Jan 16, and the men are back in action the next day at Evansville.