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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Brown, relays lead to successful swimming title defense


Zarena Brown won six gold medals at the American Athletic Conference Championships, three coming individually and the other three from the relay races. | File photo/The Cougar

The swimming & diving team has made history for the second consecutive season. The Cougars won their second straight American Athletic Conference title by scoring the second most points in conference history.

After hosting the conference meet the last two seasons, the Cougars were undaunted as they traveled to Southern Methodist University. The Cougars won nine conference titles and had 19 top three finishes, beating the second place Cincinnati Bearcats 826 points to 663.

For their efforts, head coach Ryan Wochomurka was named the conference Coach of the Year for the second straight season.

“I don’t know what to say, other than that it was an amazing week for our program,” Wochomurka said in a news release. “Every single part of our team came together this week in a way that we haven’t seen in the three years that we’ve been here. It truly was a team effort from top to bottom.”

Sophomore Zarena Brown led the way for the team, winning three individual titles and contributing to three relay victories.

Brown won the 500-yard and 200-yard freestyle races with times of four minutes, 44.59 seconds and one minute, 45.78 seconds respectively. Her win in the 100-yard freestyle came by way of setting a new school record at 49.09 seconds.

Brown also swam the anchor legs for both the 800-yard freestyle, 400-yard medley relays and 400-yard freestyle relay. All resulted in gold medal finishes for the Cougars.

Sophomore diver Lauren Burrell was the first to win a gold medal for the Cougars over the four day meet. Burrell took first place in the 3-meter dive with a score of 287.45. With her teammate, redshirt senior Micaela Bouter, only finishing eighth, Burrell’s win ensured another Cougar would leave with a conference gold medal from the diving events.

Team captains, sophomore Peyton Kondis and junior Eleanna Koutsouveli, also took gold in their respective events.

Koutsouveli took gold in the 200-yard IM with a time of one minute, 58.68 seconds. She also took bronze in the 400-yard IM.

Kondis also swam in the 200-yard IM, taking silver with a time of one minute, 59.75 seconds. But in the 100-yard breaststroke, in which Kondis is the school record holder, she took gold with a time of 59.75 seconds.

The final race of the meet was the 400-yard freestyle relay, and even though the title was safely secured by that point, the Cougars still made history when they dived into the pool.

The team of freshman Mykenzie Leehy, senior Ksenia Yuskova, sophomore Laura Laderoute and Brown combined to swim a time of three minutes, 18.56 seconds. Their time set both a pool record and a program record.

For now, the swimming & diving team is still celebrating their victory jump into the pool at SMU. But soon they will set to work on getting to the NCAA Championships, which start on March. 14.

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