Day 1 Done in Columbia

Vandy ends opening day of Gamecock Invitational in third place

by Camille Liska

COLUMBIA, S.C.  The Vanderbilt swimming team stands third out of seven teams Wednesday after the opening night of the three-day Gamecock Invitational competition at the Carolina Natatorium.

“I’m really, really happy for our team tonight, it was an exciting night of racing for everybody,” said head coach Jeremy Organ. “It started off with our 200 freestyle relay setting the tone for the night by providing an initial spark of energy, then we went into the 500 freestyle where it was just an amazing job by everybody who swam topped off by Kailia’s performance in the A Final. That had everyone excited as we moved into the 200 IM and had two really great swims by Ellie and Faith. We continued to have great swims by everybody in the 50 free, and capped the night with three great races in the 400 medley relay which included some outstanding individual performances.”

The meet began with a third-place finish for the 200 freestyle relay team, which was also their fastest mark of the season, and closed with another season-best time for the 400 medley relay team. In between, several student-athletes entered the Dores’ all-time top-10 performance list while many individuals recorded their best marks of the season.

Host South Carolina took the lead at the end of the opening day of the competition with 538 points, with UNC-Wilmington standing second after scoring 317 points and Vandy in third with 205.

“Overall, it was an exciting night for the Commodores that has set the tone for the week,” Organ said.

Meet Highlights
-The 200 free relay team of Ellie Taliaferro, Megan Ciezczak, Gabriela Pierobon Mays, and Chantal Jordan finished third in the opening event of the evening session.
-Kailia Utley placed eighth in the A Final of the 500 free.
-Ciezczak recorded a 23.65 mark to qualify for the A Final in the 50 free.
-Taliaferro won the B Final in the 200 IM, with Faith Knelson touching the wall second in the race.
-Jordan and Eleanor Beers placed third and fourth, respectively, in the 50 free B Final.
-Pierobon Mays and Natalie Van Noy touched the wall at the same time to share first-place honors in the C Final of the 50 free.
-Taylor Ward and Clare Vetkoetter recorded a one-two finish in the 500 free C Final.

-Both A relay teams posted marks—1:32.85 in the 200 free, 3:44.36 in the 400 medley—that meet the A Standard for the CSCAA National Invitational Championship in March.
-Taliaferro set a new freshman record with her 2:02.70 mark in the 200 IM and is now ranked third on Vanderbilt’s all-time performance list in the event.
-Knelson’s time in the 200 IM (2:02.73) ranks fourth on Vandy’s all-time performance as well.
-Both met the NIC B Standard in the event for the first time this season.
-Utley’s performance in the 500 free (4:56.93) now ranks her ninth all-time in the event in school history, is the fastest of the team so far this season, and meets the NIC B Standard.
-Ciezczak’s mark in the prelims of the 50 free was the fastest recorded on the team in 2022-23.
-Jordan (23.75), Pierobon Mays (23.86), Van Noy (23.86), Beers (23.89), Karsyn Cook (23.95), Allison Bauer (24.30) and Alina Stout (24.37) all recorded season-best times in the 50 free.
-Ryen Bosuro (23.99), Jenna Ravarino (24.05) and Hannah Weissman (24.43) also added career-best performances for the Commodores in the event.
-Ward (4:58.72) set a new career-best time in the 500 free—meeting the NIC B Standard in the process—while Vetkoetter’s (5:01.96) finish in the race was her fastest this season.
-Kendall Hall’s 5:05.29 performance in the 500 free was a career-best time also.
-Maddie Smith set a new season-best time of 2:05.63 in the 200 IM, and Alixandra Roy  (2:09.92) posted her fastest mark of the season in the event as well.

The Commodores will return to action Thursday at 9 a.m. CT for day 2 of the Gamecock Invitational.