Women’s Swimming, Diving top No. 22 Arkansas in SEC opener

By Joey Gjata, 23 Sports

Saturday, Oct. 26–

After a convincing first place finish in the Show-Me Showdown three weeks ago, the Mizzou Women’s Swimming and Diving team topped No. 22 Arkansas 166-134 in Fayetteville to start the SEC season 1-0. The Swim quartet of Danielle Barbiea, Abby Duncan, Hannah Stevens and Katharine Ross led the way for the Tigers, who won 10 of 16 events on the night.

The foursome began the meet with an emphatic 1:41.40 first place finish in the 200 medley relay, ousting the Razorbacks’ relay team by one half of a second. From there, each swimmer looked poised to grab a first place finish in their individual events.

Backstroke specialist Stevens continued Missouri’s success as she swept both the 100 and 200 back with times of 55.33 and 1:58.92 respectively. The freshman not only recorded her first collegiate victory in the 100 back, but also scored the ninth best time in school history for both of the two backstroke events. Her 1:58.92 narrowly defeated Arkansas’ Anna Mayfield by two tenths of a second.

In breaststroke, Duncan put up impressive times in both the 100 (1:01.85) and 200 (2:15.38), winning both events by less than one second. The Auburn transfer posted the fourth fastest time in school history in the 100 breast. The two time All-American and the 2012 All-SEC Freshman Team member looks to improve off of her stellar performances as a underclassman.

Barbiea, like Duncan and Stevens, also recorded two individual first place finishes, one in the 50 free and 100 fly. In the sprint free, the senior won rather comfortably with her 23.30 time and absolutely dismantled the competition in the 100 fly, winning by more than three seconds. Ranking first in the nation in the 100 fly for most of last season, Barbiea looks to continue that success as the year progresses.

Ross added an individual win in the 200 IM with a time of 2:02.59. The sophomore stud has shown great promise scoring a third individual event win in the two meets this season, and versatility as a breaststroker, medley swimmer and relay utility member.

In the diving well, junior Lauren Reedy gathered the points for Mizzou in the 1-meter dive with a score of 299.63. Freshman Alexa Beckwith finished not too far behind in second place with a career best of 279.75.

In the final event of the evening, the 400 relay, the Tigers’ A team knocked off the Arkansas’ A squad 3:23.16 to 3:24.57. The close finish made for an exciting end to the evening’s competition.

Although they only captured six first place finishes, Arkansas dominated the free and back events thanks to the junior Mayfield and sophomore Aiden Lister, scoring a number of second and third place finishes.

Despite having a long layoff between their first and second official competitions, the Tigers look in midseason form as youth and experience are getting the job done in both pools. An all-around strong team with precise chemistry and an experienced coaching staff, the Mizzou women’s swimming and diving team has the pieces to make a legitimate run in this year’s NCAA tournament barring any major setbacks.

The Tigers are back in the pool next Friday against Missouri State at home in the Mizzou Aquatic Arena. The dual meet is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.