A second-place finish in the meet-closing 200 freestyle relay allowed the Navy women’s swimming and diving team (8-3) to edge James Madison (5-3), 151-149, Saturday afternoon at Savage Natatorium in Harrisonburg, Va.
The meet featured five lead changes and the Mids going 1-2-3 in four events and the Dukes doing so in three events.
“What a meet!” said Navy women’s swimming head coach John Morrison. “I am super proud of the team. Swimming at James Madison is never an easy environment to compete in. James Madison had a great performance today.”
James Madison won the 200 medley relay and 1000 free to take an early 23-13 lead. Navy answered with Cameron Horner (Jr., Hebron, Md.) leading a 1-2-3 finish for Navy in the 200 free (1:52.46). The 29-26 lead for the Mids didn’t last long as JMU matched that showing in the 100 back to regain a 42-32 lead. Back came the Mids with a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 breast — Reagan Johnson (Sr., Charlotte, N.C.) won the event (1:04.93) — to make the score 48-45 in favor of Navy.
Another Navy win in the next event — Caroline Irwin (So., Buford, Ga.) won the 200 fly (2:04.04) — made it a 60-52 advantage. However, the Dukes won the next three events to build a 95-74 advantage.
The Mids would win each of the next four events to take a 132-113 lead. Gabi Baldwin (Jr., Lake Elms, Minn.) won the 200 back (2:02.85), Lauren Walsh (Fr., Shelton, Conn.) led a 1-2-3 Navy finish in the 200 breast (2:17.97), Horner helped the Mids sweep the top-three placings in the 500 free (5:08.34) and Irwin won the 100 fly (56.42).
James Madison climbed right back into the meet by placing first, second and third in the one-meter diving event and closing to within 135-129. Walsh won the final individual event of the meet, the 200 IM (2:03.92), to make the score 147-136 heading into the 200 freestyle relay.
The Mids needed to either win or place second in the race to secure the win. A third-place finish by Navy would give the victory to James Madison.
Navy was in third place after 50 yards (23.54 to 23.44 to 23.88, respectively), and remained in that position after 100 yards (1:12.01 to 1:12.47 to 1:12.51). Catherine Weaverling (So., Glen Mills, Pa.) had a great third leg as her effort of 23.40 ranked second in the field and allowed the Mids to move into second place (1:35.19 to 1:35.91 to 1:36.22). Hannah Pratt (Jr., Fishers, Ind.) was able to maintain that position during her anchor leg to secure the second-place finish and points. JMU won the race in a time of 1:35.19, Navy placed second with a 1:35.91 and the Dukes finished in third place with a 1:36.22.
“Our team was incredible,” said Morrison. “They displayed the determination and grit needed after trailing by 21 points with seven events left, then taking the lead and needing a great relay to win the meet. It was an entire team effort from start to finish.”
Navy will close its regular season Friday when it plays host to Richmond, then will compete in the Bucknell Invitational Jan. 28 to start the championship portion of its schedule.