The weekend of 2-3 March proved to be a historic one for the St Andrews Swim Team. Competing in the annual Scottish Universities Championship – hosted this year in Inverness – the Saints brought only eight swimmers to compete against teams of 30. But despite the odds the Saints boasted the best team performance in the history of the club.
Designed as a three-session swim meet over the course of two days, each swimmer raced anywhere from two to four individual events, plus relays. If the prelims swim was fast enough to warrant a top eight finish, the swimmer qualified for finals and thus raced the event a second time for an overall finish, earning points for the club and a medal for a top- three finish. For the first time ever, St Andrews qualified every participating swimmer for finals.
For the Women, first years Hannah Krone and Katherine Schmitt placed 4th and 6th respectively in the Women’s 200 Individual Medley. Krone also qualified for finals in the Women’s 100 Individual Medley, placing 7th overall. Additionally, the women’s 200 Medley Relay of Silvia Devecchi, Krone, Schmitt and JSA Andrea Martinez qualified for finals with an overall finish of 7th place.
The Men’s side currently boasts one of its fastest squads ever, with several top three finishes and an unprecedented two relays qualifying for finals. Top scorer for the Saints was Men’s Captain Chris Wollner, dominating the backstroke events with a 3rd place finish in the 200 Back, 6th place finish in the 100 Back, and a 3rd place finish in the 50 Back. First year team MVP, Will Johnston, qualified for finals in the 50 Fly, 100 Fly and 100 Free garnering third, fourth and eighth place finishes respectively. Fourth year team member Adam Reith also qualified for finals in both the 100 IM and the 100 Back with 8th place finishes.
The highlight of the weekend was both the Men’s 200 Medley Relay and 200 Free Relay qualifying for finals, the 200 Free Relay earning a 4th place seeding, behind the notorious swimming powerhouses of Edinburgh, RGU and Glasgow. The team of Wollner and Johnston combined with first year Mark Diamond and 4th year Nick Stuchbury for a 7th place finish in the men’s 200 Medley Relay and a thrilling 5th place finish in the Men’s 200 Free Relay with a time of 1:42.51.
This unprecedented performance at the tournament reflects the commitment that these athletes devote to their sport all year round, training five days a week in the pool with an additional sixth practice at the Sports Centre focusing on flexibility, strength and conditioning.
Under the supervision of President Silvia Devecchi and the guidance of captains Ludovica Anneda and Chris Wollner, the team this year has worked harder than ever before to elevate the St Andrews Swimming programme to a new level of competitiveness with the other universities. Their performance at the Scottish Universities Championships demonstrates the culmination of their dedication to this demanding sport.