Swimming and diving wins 26 conference medals
After four consecutive days and 26 total team gold medals, the University of Indianapolis swimming and diving teams placed third in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament overall. The team traveled to Crawfordsville, Ind., to battle conference opponents Feb. 8-11.
On the men’s side, sophomore Rodrigo Codo Berti kicked off the long weekend by successfully defending his 200 IM title. The next day, the men’s 400 meter relay of Berti, senior Bartosz Zarzecki, freshman Ante Lucev and sophomore Guilherme Zavaneli picked up a win, setting a new conference record, and broke a four-year-old UIndy record. Berti won yet another gold medal in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 48.19. Zavaneli also won bronze in the 500 free and came 61 seconds away from breaking the school record.
During the final day of the meet on Feb. 11, Berti tacked on his last gold of the competition in the 200 backstroke. Zavaneli earned second place in the 100 free, also breaking a school record with a time of 44.18.
The women also placed in many of the events. The 200 medley team made up of junior Malvina Shoukri, freshman Athina Konstantinidi, freshman Sotia Neophytou and sophomore Stefanie Haholiades placed third with a B-cut time of 1:43.93. Neophytou also placed fifth in the 100 fly, with a personal best time of 55.81, and Shourki earned a personal best in the 200 free with a time of 1:53.56.
Freshman diver Payton Staman won a gold medal on the 1-meter board and set a new UIndy, and GLVC record with a score of 493.15. Freshman Josh Zysltra also received a silver medal for the 1-meter with score of 483.70. The next day, Zysltra also broke a conference record on the 3-meter board with a score of 551.65. For the women, sophomore diver Ashley Clevenger and freshman diver Kristen Gushrowski placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
In addition to the teams many medals, senior Megan Giambastini and sophomore Daulton Freeman received the James R. Spalding Sportsmanship Award, and Zylstra earned GLVC Diver of the Year, marking the fourth consecutive year for a hound to receive that award. Previously, the team also received Scholar All-America Team honors from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, with a men’s combined GPA of 3.48 and women’s GPA of 3.37.
This is Head Swimming and Diving Coach Jason Hite’s second year as head coach of the program, and he said that he is planning to continue on the legacy that past coach Gary Kinkead built with the team, and keep the student athletes at a highly competitive level.
“The goal of the team is to be a top five, top 10 team every single year, carry a team 3.5 GPA, and have a positive impact on the UIndy and Indianapolis community. That’s our mission statement for our team,” Hite said. “The team over the last 20 years has had so much success, and we are just going to keep that going and take it even to the next level.”
The swimming and diving teams are among the most culturally diverse teams on UIndy’s campus, with athletes coming from 12 different countries. Berti said swimming is not so much a team sport in his home country of Brazil, and it took time to adjust when he first began his athletic career in the United States.
“Here [it] is different from where I came from. I came from Brazil, [and] we don’t have the support that we have here,” Berti said. “Your teammates, they are always by your side. At this last meet that we had, I enjoyed the environment, and the teammates cheering on me. And my teammates saying positive things for me, so that’s why I could swim fast.”
Freshman Darian Murray from Australia, agreed that the culture of athletics is different in the United States, and took getting used to.
“America is unique in that way. No other country is as big of a family as America is,” Murray said. “Your teammates are at the pool deck right next to you, screaming at you, like you are deaf by the end of the competition because they are so loud.”
The presence of other international students on the team put both Berti and Murray at ease when deciding to make the trek to America. Berti in particular had a difficult time conforming to the culture of the United States, while also adapting to the English language. He said that having other international teammates helped him make this transition.
“I don’t have English as my first language, so I had to adapt myself,” Berti said. “And the international people help me a lot, because I kind of, in the past, felt more comfortable talking to them than talking to Americans. So that’s one thing, that I could improve my English starting with international people and then moving to Americans.”
Murray and Berti said that they are both satisfied with the success that they have had this season, as well as the times they have achieved. Although Berti had a successful season, he is focused mostly on creating bonds within the team and having a good time.
“I always say to the other guys that I’m not focused on my times,” Berti said. “I just like to have fun and enjoy the competition. It’s a new story that I can tell my kids in the future, and to my family.”