Strong trial times look promising for women’s swimming


The Gannon University swimming and diving teams have been preparing for their seasons to start. Their first scheduled meet versus Youngstown State was postponed.

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

The women’s swimming and diving team at Gannon University is looking to bounce back from a 2019-20 season that ended with an overall dual meet record of 2-6.

In coach Jacqueline Michalski’s first season, she was able to bring plenty of coaching experience, including five years at Division I Eastern Illinois, where the Panthers set 19 program records and nine pool records under her leadership.

Despite the record, the Knights were able to stay competitive in many meets, while notching wins versus Buffalo State and Shippensburg.

They placed second at the Allegheny Gator Invitational, as well as sixth as a team in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championships, earning 11 podium finishes.

The women’s team was led by Silvija Taraska, who set a pair of program records in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 51.63 seconds, and the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.02, as a junior.

Taraska was able to place in the top-six in six different events at the PSAC championships.

Allison Ahl placed fifth in the 100 freestyle at the conference championships with a time of 52.12 and the team of Taraska, Ahl, Celia Kottakis and Zoe Snyder captured second place in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:30.77.

Snyder and Kottakis both made the C final of the 100 freestyle, with Snyder placing 18th and Kottakis finishing 23rd.

The PSAC championships saw nine Gannon swimmers compete in total.

Looking ahead, the women’s team has been preparing for the 2020-21 season by taking part in intrasquad and virtual meets.

While the competitive schedule has not begun, the Knights have a few things to be excited about.

“We have been training this whole semester and hosting time trials on the weekends,” Michalski said. “Our times are just as fast, if not faster than last year.”

Snyder currently has the fastest 50 freestyle time in Division II with a mark of 24.20. The women’s 400 freestyle relay team has the second-fastest time at 3:42.40.

Taraska, who is also back for Gannon, leads Division II with a time of 53.21 in the 100 freestyle.

Brynn Driscoll has recorded top-10 times in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke.

“We have seen times so far that have set pool records, times that concrete athletes’ place in the program history,” said Michalski.

These early times show signs of promise for the women’s team, and Michalski thinks this team has lots of potential heading into this season.

“The newcomers to our team have raised the bar and took our motto from last year, ‘Golden Standard,’ to a whole new level,” she said. “They go the extra mile without being asked and stay late to work on the little things. They have sparked a newfound joy in our sport to our upperclassmen.”

The full schedules for the men’s and women’s teams have not yet been released by the PSAC or Gannon. The team was scheduled to make its season debut Nov. 7 at Youngstown State, but the host team postponed the meet for undisclosed reasons. No makeup date was announced.

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