Swimming and Diving Reaches Midseason, Breaks Records at Bucknell

Both the men’s and women’s squads saw their toughest competition yet but with a trio of school records and strong individual performances, Fordham was up for the challenge as their season reaches the halfway point.


In their first travel meet of the season, the swim team had swimmers break three old school records. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

The middle of the season has finally approached for the Fordham swimming and diving team as it had its first travel meet of the season in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Right before the Thanksgiving break, the team spent three days at Bucknell University competing in what shaped up to be a long and challenging meet. 

Both the women and men saw some of the toughest competition thus far this year. Schools that competed alongside Fordham included Towson University, the University of Connecticut, Bucknell University, Davidson College, La Salle University, Rider University and New Jersey Institute of Technology. With such a large pool of competition, the Bucknell Invitational shaped up to be an exciting three days to test the Rams’ strength.

Day one showed just a glimpse of the action. 

Starting off, senior diver Natalie Ortof finished ninth as Fordham’s top diver of the day. Her score of 232.40 on the women’s three-meter board was just one of the events that she had finished for the weekend. On the men’s side, senior Diego Perez also placed ninth during the first day of events. He was also Fordham’s top finisher of the day as he earned a score of 192.00 during the one-meter board event.

The first swimming event of the meet was the 200 freestyle relay where the women placed fifth in their time of 1:35.14, and the men placed eighth in their time of 1:23.90. 

Other outstanding performances during the first day included junior Clare Culver who led in the 500 freestyle event placing seventh in her time of 4:57.15. Junior Ethan Murray was a top finisher on the men’s side of the event, placing fourth overall with a final time of 4:38.04. Freshman Brian Desmond placed 16th overall in his time of 4:47.23. 

Another tremendous performance came from freshman Ainhoa Martin who set a new school record in the 200 IM event with a time of 1:59.57. Her teammates were right behind her in the “A” section of the finals, freshman Leire Martin placed sixth, graduate student Becky Kamau was seventh and junior Alison Lin was eighth. Graduate student Vaula Vekkeli placed 21st overall in the “C” section finals,

Sophomore Alex Wilhelm placed sixth overall with his time of 1:52.04 in a tight race on the men’s side. Senior Spencer Clarke took 19th overall in his time of 1:53.94 for the 200 IM.

Fordham had seven swimmers in the finals in the 50 freestyle event. Senior Victoria Navarro was a top finisher, placing seventh overall in a time of 23.84. Senior Kiara Norris was close behind her, placing sixteenth in her final time of 24.23. Freshman Jessica Zebrowski was right behind Norris, finishing 23rd overall in a time of 24.26. 

 Fordham’s top male finishers were separated by only half of a second. Junior Nicholas Chao placed 15th overall in his time of 21.19, slightly ahead of his teammate freshman Taz Kanjanakaset who placed 16th overall. Freshman Alexander Shah placed 23rd overall in his time of 21.46. Clarke finished in 21.59.

The Fordham women were in third place with 327 points by the end of day one. Towson had the lead with 464.5 points, and Bucknell was second with 352.5 points. The men were fifth overall with 185 points. Towson also led this side as they looked toward Saturday.

Day two was another historic mark of competition. The meet began with the women’s 200 medley relay. The Rams placed sixth there with a time of 1:43.43. The men placed tenth overall in their final time of 1:34.05.

A. Martin started off individual events strong by getting another school record in the 400 IM, winning her event in a time of 4:15.75. L. Martin finished in the top as well, placing fourth with her time of 4:19.23. Lin, freshman Emilie Krog and sophomore Ellen Brooks placed 10th, 12th and 24th respectively.

Freshman Daniel Langlois won his heat on the men’s side of the 400 IM in a time of 4:06.45. Senior Doug Grisbaum placed 20th overall in his finishing time of 4:17.69. 

They followed that up with even more impressive times in the 100 butterfly. Freshman Vitalis Onu was a top finisher, placing eighth overall in his time of 50.22, and freshman Len Ray placed 15th in his time of 51.61.

Culver placed fifth overall in the 200 freestyle event at a time of 1:52.14, leading the women in another scoring event.

Kamau took the lead for the women in the 100 backstroke. She won the event in a time of 1:02.00, and A. Martin placed sixth with a time of 1:03.56. Vekkeli placed 14th with her time of 1:06.51, and junior Eva Kaplan placed 19th with her time of 1:06.72. 

Ortof qualified for Sunday’s final in the day’s diving events. She received a score of 261.35 for in the one-meter board.

The day’s last event was the 800 freestyle event, where the women took second in a time of 7:30.02. The Rams were in fourth place after these events, with Towson still in the lead, and Connecticut right ahead of Fordham. The men finished the day in sixth place.

The final day of events began with the 1650 freestyle event. Culver led the women’s placements once again, as she placed seventh in her time of 16:56.01. Desmond stood out again for the men, placing 13th. Freshman Evan Trout was right behind him, placing 15th, alongside Grisbaum who placed 16th.

In the 200 backstroke, L. Martin finished third overall with a time of 2:00.05, and Lin placed ninth overall with her time of 2:02.69. Wilhelm placed sixth for the men in his time of 1:50.21. 

Four women and men scored for the Rams in the 100 freestyle event, contributing to the accumulation of points throughout the weekend.

History was made once again as Kamau shattered the school record in the 200 breaststroke, making this the third record-breaking day for the Rams. Her time of 2:13.15 also allowed her to win the event. 

Langlois took 10th place overall for the men. Freshman Daniel Cote, senior Julius Ekstrand, and freshman Kevin Zahariev placed 21st through 23rd overall. 

Navarro, Zebrowksi, Rosa, and Brooks stood out in the event’s final individual meet, the 200 butterfly. Zebrowski topped all Rams by placing fifth overall with her time of 2:03.61. Rosa won the “B” section of the finals with her time of 2:06.42. Navarro placed 13th with her time of 2:08.22 and Brooks was 15th with her time of 2:09.68. Freshman Daniel Badawy and Murray were the top finishers for the men’s 200 butterfly event. Their times were very close at 1:53.78 and 1:54.98, respectively. 

The meet closed with the 400 freestyle event. After three days of competing, the ladies were still able to finish strong with a fourth place finish in a time of 3:26.15. 

Overall, the women placed fourth in the meet with 1084 points. The men sat sixth overall as they closed out with 637 points. However, the main story will be the athletes that now have their name engraved in the Fordham record books with another half of competition remaining.