Feb. 17, 2018
— Ohio State Swim/Dive (@OhioSt_SwimDive) February 18, 2018
Columbus, Ohio – Liz Li was undoubtedly the best swimmer in the pool this week at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, and the Ohio State women’s swimming and diving team closed out the 2018 Women’s Big Ten Championships on Saturday night at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, finishing third in the final team standings with 1094.5 points. It’s the Buckeyes highest finish since 2012.
Entering the final night of the meet with individual golds in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, Li returned to the final of the 100 freestyle as the No. 3 seed with a qualifying time of 47.93. Li came out of the blocks in 22.86 seconds making her the second quickest swimmer at the halfway marker of the race. Over the final 50 yards of the race, Li dropped a 24.57 to overtake and pull away from the No. 1 seeded Siobhan Haughey of Michigan to win with a school record, Big Ten record and NCAA A cut time of 47.43. With the triumph, Li became only the fourth Buckeye in school history to win three individual gold medals at a single Big Ten meet joining the likes of Susan Gottlieb, Janelle Bosse and Teresa Fightmaster.
The women’s quartet of Macie McNichols, Freya Rayner, Kristen Romano and Li closed out the meet in fine fashion with a school record time of 3:13.35 in the 400 freestyle relay for second place. McNichols clocked a 49.03, Rayner went 48.56 and Romano clocked a 48.86 before giving way to Li. When Li left the blocks, Ohio State was in fourth place, but not for long. Li was the only swimmer of the race to go sub 47 registering a 46.90 split to catapult Ohio State to second on the podium.
Freshman Kristen Romano accomplished a feat that no other Buckeye has ever done – she was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year following the B1G meet in Columbus. Romano is part of a young crop of up and rising Buckeye underclassmen and she had a wondrous first-career Big Ten meet. In addition to the aforementioned silver with the 400 free relay, Romano registered a third place finish in the 400 individual medley (Friday/4:06.90) and a fourth-place showing in the 200 backstroke tonight with a readout of 1:53.34. The main highlight of her freshman season came at the 2017 USA Swimming Winter National Championships where she clocked a third-place finish with a school record time of 1:52.86. In addition to earning the Freshman of the Year honor, Romano was also named the to the All-Big Ten Second Team.
Ohio State’s All-Big Ten First Team performers were Meg Bailey, Li, Maria Coy, Rayner and McNichols for winning titles. Bailey closed out her Big Ten career with a stellar meet as well winning a title in the 400 individual medley on Friday night, and she swam herself to a bronze finish in the 200 butterfly Saturday with a readout of 1:55.59 to close out her phenomenal week. She also placed fourth in the 200 individual medley on Thursday night. McNichols scored A final points for Ohio State in the 100 freestyle Saturday evening with a time of 48.89 and was a member of the 200 freestyle relay that won gold on Friday night.
Molly Kowal had a calm and composed swim in the 1650 freestyle to get the finals session started. She clocked a career-best of 15:53.11 to register a NCAA A cut mark and take bronze. On the platform, Ohio State received scoring efforts from Lara Tarvit (331.25/fourth place), Genevieve Angerame (268.05/12th place) and Lexie Barker (260.75/14th place). Hanna Gresser finished off her first career Big Ten meet with her second straight sixth-place finish of the meet. Gresser went with a personal best time of 2:10.78 in the 200 breaststroke for her placing; she was the top freshman swimmer in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke this week.
Michigan won the team title with 1465 points.