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Swimming and diving sends seniors off with a win

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on January 22, 2013 – 11:45 am2 Comments

Prior to the meet, seniors Rebecca McEachern, Amy Tran and Amber Kelly were recognized for their commitment to the UALR swimming and diving program. Photo by Jacob Ellerbee

UALR’s swimming and diving team ended its final home meet of the season on a positive note winning 10 events and defeating Rhodes College of Memphis, Tenn. 64-46 and Hendrix College of Conway 75-30.

This was the final meet at the Donaghey Center Natatorium for seniors Amber Kelly, Rebecca McEachern and Amy Tran. Prior to the start of the first event, the seniors were recognized for their commitment to the UALR swimming program. Teammates, friends and family members embraced the three swimmers near the starting blocks with hugs and flower arrangements.

Amy Burgess, head coach of the UALR swimming and diving program, talked about the significance of these three student athletes and the impact they have had on the program.

“These three girls are actually the first girls I kind of recruited as a head coach,” Burgess said. “They committed to me as a young coach, and to kind of a younger program, and really have just been there all the way through: pushing with the recruiting, being involved in a lot of stuff, starting traditions, starting the whole program.”

“These girls are great and they’re going to be missed,” Burgess said. “They’re very organized and they’re loving what they’re doing.”

McEachern, a Star City native, is working toward a master’s degree in accounting. Kelly, a Juneau, Alaska native, will graduate with a degree in health sciences, placing an emphasis in health promotion, and a minor in education. Tran, a Medina, Tenn. native, will graduate with a mass communication degree, placing an emphasis in strategic communication, and a minor in music.

At the conclusion of the ceremony honoring the three senior swimmers, the night of events began.

The first event of the evening, the 400 yard medley relay, included a team of junior Kara Raney to start things off, sophomore Meghan Petersen going in next, followed by Kelly and ending with freshman Valeriya Teplova. The relay group finished first overall with a time of 4:04.58.

The next event, the 1650 yard freestyle, had two UALR swimmers competing in the long-distance race. Sophomore Alexis Stone took first place with a time of 19:03.19 and sophomore Sam Thompson took third with a time of 19:56.92

The 200 yard freestyle featured four UALR swimmers and they all took the top four fastest times. Freshman Natalie Swindle finished first with a time of 1:57.74. Kelly took second with a time of 1:58.99, while junior Holly Myers took third (1:59.10) and Raney took fourth (2:00.86).

McEachern and Tran took first and second, respectively, in the 50 yard freestyle with times of 25.31 and 25:70.

Junior Hope Myers took second place in the 400 yard individual medley with a time of 4:58.13.

As swimmers took a break, the diving portion of the meet began. UALR sent freshman Megan Scott to face Mary Portera of Rhodes College in the one meter diving competition. Scott outscored Portera 248.30 to 201.25 to claim victory for UALR.

Swindle represented UALR in the 200 yard butterfly by taking first place with a time of 2:10.26.

In the 100 yard freestyle, Teplova took first for UALR with a time of 53.73. McEachern finished in second with a time of 56.60.

Holly Myers took first in the 500 yard freestyle by finishing at the 5:20.66 mark.

The swimmers took another short break to allow for more diving competition. The divers competed at the three meter mark and Scott prevailed again for UALR, outscoring Portera 271.50 to 176.45.

The night ended with the 200 yard freestyle relay. UALR had two groups competing in the relay. Burgess called on Raney, Teplova, McEachern and Kelly to compete as the “A-group” and Holly Myers, Petersen, Swindle and Tran to compete as the “B-group.” A-group finished first with a time of 1:39.00, the A-group from Rhodes College took second place at 1:43.32 and UALR’s B-group took third with a time of 1:45.54.

The team will travel to Vanderbilt University of Nashville, Tenn. for the final meet of the season before heading to Rockwall, Texas to compete in the Sun Belt Conference championships Feb. 27- March 02.