By Geoffrey Knight
The Albion College swimming team gave a phenomenal performance at the MIAA championships Feb. 13 through Feb. 17.
Overall the team broke 13 school swimming records. The men broke all five relay records as well as three individual records, while the women broke three relay records and two individual records.
“Rewriting the record board was probably the biggest thing for us as a team,” said Mary Ann Egnatuk, assistant swim and dive coach. “On a different note we also had a majority of our swimmers swam lifetime best times. Everyone was a factor to our success.”
Both the men and women teams moved up in standings from last year. The women improved to fifth place overall from seventh. The men improved to a fourth place finish from a sixth place finish last year.
The men’s team was led by MIAA Most Valuable Swimmer, Brian Fiorillo, Southgate junior. Fiorillo won the 50, 100 and 200-meter freestyle individual races and competed in the 400 and 800 meter relay teams, which also won.
Brad Melpolder, Hamilton junior, Tom Parson, Grandville first-year and Austin Bateman, Royal Oak junior also competed in the men’s school record-breaking 400-meter freestyle race with Fiorillo.
Melpolder won the 500 meter freestyle race and finished second to Fiorillo in the 200 meter freestyle race. He was also selected to the All-MIAA team.
“We won the last relay by .04 seconds and you really couldn’t tell who won by watching the race you had to look up at the score board,” Fiorillo said. “With that being one of the fasted races in the meet and for Albion to come from dead last [last year] and to end up winning it this year was great.”
After meeting automatic qualifying times of 20.31 seconds and 44.70 seconds in the 50 and 100 meter relays respectively, Fiorillo will compete in the NCAA Division III in Houston on March 22 through March 24.
The women’s team was led by Julie Okorn, West Bloomfield junior and Anna Hargrove, Milan first-year.
Okorn was the first to touch the wall in the 400 meter individual medley and the 200 meter butterfly. When all was said and done she held school records in the 200 and 500-meter freestyle events and the 400 IM.
“It was great to see everyone’s hard work pay off,” Okorn said. “Everyone had such a positive attitude in the MIAA [Championship] and the entire season.”
Hargrove won the 50 meter backstroke event and finished the season with school records in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke, the 100-meter freestyle and the 200-meter individual medley.
“From a team standpoint I think we all did better than we thought we would,’ Hargrove said. “We went out and performed phenomenally.”
The Albion College swim and dive team is on the rise in Jacob Taber’s first year as the head coach. The team improved as a whole, and individual performances from team leaders helped the team obtain much needed success.
“From a coaching standpoint, everything was expected, everyone put in hard work they were supposed to,” Fiorillo said. “But from a conference standpoint, I don’t think anyone expected what happened.”
With only two women and four men graduating after this season, the successes of the Albion College swim and dive team will only improve.