GETTYSBURG, Pa. – The Ursinus College women's swimming team ended the first night of competition at the Centennial Conference championship with the slimmest of leads. They left night 2 with quite a bit more separation.
The Bears are halfway home in their search for a sixth straight crown after a dominating Friday performance that included three conference records, three gold medals, and a clean podium sweep. Ursinus ended the evening with 317.5 points, 81 clear of second-place Gettysburg; the Bears led Swarthmore by just two points entering the third session of the weekend.
Senior Peyten Lyons and freshman Sophie Lear were each involved in two first-place swims and a conference record. Lyons won her third career gold medal in the 200 IM, cruising to victory with a 2:06.76 that wound up being more than two seconds ahead of runner-up Scout Clark of Swarthmore. Senior Caroline Powell (2:12.13) finished sixth and sophomore Katelyn Moore (2:13.37) took eighth in the event for Ursinus, while senior Katherine Madden was 12th in 2:13.57.
Freshman Katie Schultz was incredible in the 500 free, blitzing past the former program record with a time of 5:01.41 to take second place at a pace less than a second off four-time champion Olivia Lyman of Dickinson. Senior Kathryn Longenecker finished sixth (5:13.27) and junior Haley Sturla was eighth (5:15.54) for the Bears, who also saw sophomore Allison Thomas (14th) and junior Margrethe Leis (15th) qualify for the B final.
The 50 free was a historic event for the Bears. They finished 1-2-3, with Lear leading the caravan ahead of sophomore Sophie May and senior Clara Baker. To make it all the more impressive, Lear's time of 23.45 was good for a Centennial Conference and championship record, while May's 23.72 also eclipsed the previous conference standard. Both were NCAA B cut marks, and Lear's elevated her all the way up to 14th in Division III. Baker, the previous school record holder, took bronze with a 23.89.
Lyons, Lear, and Baker all came back to script another all-time performance in the 400 medley relay. Thanks in large part to Lyons' leadoff leg in the 100 back, which broke her own conference and meet record at a blazing 56.28 seconds, the Bears outpaced their 2018 conference record by nearly two complete seconds at 3:47.67. An NCAA B cut, the clocking is good for the 10th-fastest relay in the nation this season.
The championship resumes Saturday morning with prelims in the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, and 100 back.