Emma Polen | News Editor
March 16, 2023
The Duquesne women’s swimming and diving team participated in the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) National Invitational Championships last weekend, breaking personal bests and qualifying for finals across all four strokes, relays and diving.
The Atlantic 10 Conference was just one of 24 college conferences eligible to participate in the annual invitational championship. This year, the swim meet took place at the Elkhart Health & Aquatics Center in Elkhart, Ind.
Each college team was allowed to bring just 12 swimmers, with all participants needing qualifying times to compete.
The meet began on March 9, with preliminary qualifying individual events in all four strokes and in the 400-medley relay, followed by finals events for swimmers who placed in the qualifying time requirements.
Duquesne junior Reagan Linkous swam a new personal best in the 50-backstroke preliminary race with a time of 26.49 seconds.
Linkous, along with teammates freshman Sydney Severini, sophomore Haley Scholer and freshman Kayla Johnson, also swam the 400-medley relay in 3:45.77, the second-fastest time by Duquesne this season. They placed 27th in the relay final on Thursday.
On Friday, the Dukes placed in both relay and individual events.
Duquesne earned 15th in the 800-freestyle relay, swam by junior Gaby Jenkins, sophomore Orla Egan, junior Molly Brennan and Johnson. Jenkins’ 200-freestyle, which kicked off the relay, was a personal best at 1:51.01, per assistant coach Eddie Larios.
Back in the water again on Friday, Scholer placed first in the individual 100-backstroke B-final even with the third-fastest time by a Duke this season, 54.82 seconds.
Saturday was the final day for events, and Scholer and Sydney Severini finished strong.
Severini placed fourth in the 200-breast preliminary event, racing a 2:14.28, which is a personal best, a Duke season best and the second-fastest recorded time ever for Duquesne. She advanced to the A-final, where she placed ninth with a time of 2:15.77.
Severini also made a new personal best in the 100-individual medley race, with a time of 58.82.
Head Coach David Sheets spoke to the coaching staff’s work with Severini to optimize her ability to race fast in her breaststroke events.
“We made sure to focus on getting her stroke in rhythm and more connected through the body line, kick and pull,” Sheets said.
He added, “Sydney is very coachable and has a great feel for the water, so she took to the changes pretty quickly and focused on them almost daily.”
Scholer swam in the 200-backstroke event on Saturday, placing seventh with a time of 1:57.95.
Scholer’s efforts over the weekend also earned her the most points (25) out of any Duke at the invitational.
Duquesne finished the championship ranking 31st place out of 57 schools, with a total of 102 points.
Larios supported the team throughout the weekend championship.
“This is the first time we’ve been at the NIC as a program in a few years, and after a long regular season, our ladies embraced the challenge from day one,” Larios said. “More importantly, they loved the experience. To see them come together, have fun as a team and still compete at a high level was awesome to see.”
During the meet, Duquesne’s team earned points in a variety of individual stroke events.
“To be a successful team at the championship level, the team needs to be diverse from the perspective of having swimmers that can excel at different strokes,” Sheets said.
“We’ve also been really lucky over the past three years to recruit a great group of backstrokers and 200 freestylers,” he said.
This weekend, Duke swimmer and graduate student Amy Read will be competing in the NCAA Diving Championships in Knoxville, Tenn.