Eastern swim teams compete in day 2 of Summit League championship

Tom O'Connor, Swim Reporter

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In came South Dakota freshman Jacob Won. Then, exactly five milliseconds later, Eastern senior Nicholas Harkins touched the wall.

Before the competition and the water droplets on Harkin’s back could dry, South Dakota State freshman Alex Kraft bolted to the finish, just nine milliseconds after Eastern made it back to the platform.

First. Second. Third.

The men’s 800-yard freestyle relay team, with a quartet of sophomore Scott House, freshman Griffin Lewis, sophomore Ivan Escott and senior Nick Harkins, blazed a trail for Eastern swimming on Wednesday night, hours ahead of Thursday slate of competition.

“They believed in each other, and swam as a team, working together, supporting each other along the way,” said Eastern swimming coach Jacqueline Michalski. “You had the energy and fire of a freshman boy, passion and drive from our sophomore boys, and the experience of a senior boy to read the field and be confident in his abilities to close that race.”

South Dakota freshman Jacob Leichner bolted out ahead of Eastern sophomore Scott House, ahead with a lead of 1.45 by the end of the first leg.

The top three freestyle relay units came within .14 milliseconds of one another, none of them, though, came remotely close of toppling Denver’s all-time record of 6:23.58 set back in 2016.

“Together they did an amazing job,” Michalski said.

At the closure of competition on Thursday, the men’s team found itself linked with South Dakota and South Dakota State for a three-way tie for second place, though the women dropped to last in their respective standings.

At the women’s 800-yard freestyle relay, the Panthers lagged behind their five adversaries for the much of the race, but they neared a comeback, thanks in large part to junior Karleen Genardy’s performance on the third leg.

Two of Genardy’s splits were faster than her Western Illinois counterpart, senior Marissa Purdham, whose overall time was also about four seconds slower.

“Karleen has worked hard for the past 12 months to achieve her goals, and she believed in her abilities,” Machilski said.

Freshman Alex Adams superseded the school record for the 100-meter butterfly in the prelims, topping Eastern sophomore Ivan Scott, who brought down Tim Bird’s 1982 mark for first overall earlier this season, early on Thursday.

The tournament spans four days, from Wednesday through Saturday, at the Midco Center, enough time for swimmers to realize any unfulfilled goals.

Eastern sophomore Race Archibald has been flush with confidence in anticipation of the championship events where, ahead of his turn at competing in the championships, targets could be seized.

“My main goal at the beginning of the season was to break one minute in the 100 breast,” said Archibald. “I achieved that earlier this season, so my new goal is to get into the top 10 all-time in the 100 breast for EIU, and I absolutely believe I can do that this week.”

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]