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UNK swims into the record books at Morningside

Coach Becky O’Connell instructs her swimmers to do warmups during swim practice.


The UNK swim and dive team splashed their way into the record books at the Morningside Stampede Nov. 8 and the Morningside Invitational Nov. 9. The small but mighty Aqualopers had eight top 10 finishes, while also setting a new pool record in the 400-meter free relay.

“Because of the size of our team, every meet is definitely a challenge from lots of different perspectives but we’re very persistent and don’t give up,” said UNK swim coach Becky O’Connell. “We swim big and make our presence known.”

The record-setting 400-meter relay team consisted of senior Mikara Feit (Lincoln), sophomore Claire Nash (Overland Park, Kansas), freshman Audrey Stelling (Norfolk), and freshman Olivia Forrest (Danvers, Illinois). They pulled away in a time of 3:50.00, over a second in front of the runner-up’s Barton Community College. The previous record was held by Northern State from 2010 with a time of 3:51.07.

“I think there was more excitement over the fact that we won because it was an event we hadn’t won in before,” Feit said. 

The members of the relay didn’t realize the magnitude of their accomplishment until later in the day.

“We were in the hotel and it was 11 o’ clock and Claire Nash rolled over and said, Hey look we got the pool record,” Forrest said.

In the individual events at the Stampede Friday, UNK’s best showing was in the 100-yard butterfly. Freshman Forrest was second behind Majo Diaz of Iowa Central in a time of 1:03.20. Right on her heels was junior Andrea Werner (Oakland) in third place with a time of 1:04.14.

Nash added a bronze in the 100-yard freestyle to go along with her relay gold. She was 27 tenths of a second behind runner-up Addi Schroeder of Southwest Minnesota State in a time of 53.91.

In the 1,000-yard freestyle, Feit put her distance skills to the test. The Lincoln Northeast product swam to a third-place finish in a time of 11:55.22. 

Overall, the Aqualopers were fourth out of five teams with a score of 47 points. First was Iowa Central with 75 points.

On Saturday, in the Mustang Invite, UNK was led by Feit and Nash. She finished third in the 100-yard freestyle for the second day in a row in a time of 56.51 and was fifth in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 25.91. 

Not far off the pace of Nash in the 50-meter freestyle was Stelling in 10th place who clocked a 26.34.

In the 400-yard intermediate, Fiet finished in the middle of the pack in fourth place with a time of 5:17.88.

The final event of the meet was 200-yard freestyle. The Aqualopers had two different relay teams compete in the race.

Four seconds off the leaders and in seventh place was the team of Feit, Forrest, Stelling and Nash in a time 1:45.91, good enough to earn 32 points.

The team of Hannah Wilson (Grand Island), Rhianna Bailey (Kearney), Anna DeSordi (Omaha), and Andrea Werner (Oakland) scored 18 points and clocked a 1:51.63.

UNK finished Saturday fifth out of 10 teams with a score of 282 points. First was Augustana with 751 points.

With so many individuals swimming the best they have this year the morale of the team has changed for the Aqualopers.

“The team is spurred on to do better and work harder,” O’Connell said. “We got a great group of kids wanting to try different events. The next meet we go to is the Kohawk, which is another opportunity to do that.”

The team will compete on Nov. 22 -23 in the Kohawk invite at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Senior swimmer Mikara Fiet Interview
UNK Swim coach Becky O’Connell interview
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