Westmont Women’s Swimming was back at it on Thursday when they competed in day two of the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference Championships. Much like on day one, the Warriors continued to set new standards, both in their own personal record books, as well as the program’s.
The day got started in the morning with the 500 yard freestyle, which featured six Warriors across the first five heats of the race. Highlighting Westmont’s 500 performance was Olivia Garrison, who broke her own program record time with a mark of 5:07.80. Garrison posted the 10th-best time of the 500 preliminaries, which clinched her a spot in the finals later Thursday evening.
Garrison previously held the program’s top mark with a time of 5:10.24.
“I focused a bit on changing my strategy for the race,” said Garrison. “This time, I built up to the last 200 of the race and focused on that final push. It feels really good to keep improving, and hopefully I can improve again during finals.”
McKenzie Rion also made strides in her 500, finishing with a season-best time of 5:19.56. The freshman cut 20.71 seconds off of her previous season best.
Four different Warriors competed in the morning’s next event, the 200 yard IM. Headlining Westmont’s performance in the 200 IM was Ella Chaisson finishing with a season-best time of 2:09.23. Chaisson not only cut 4.63 seconds off her season-best mark, but also posted the seventh-best time of prelims, earning her a spot in the A-Heat finals in the evening.
“I didn’t think I was going to make top-eight, because a bunch of girls were going super-fast,” admitted Chaisson. “I’m super excited though, getting into the top-eight is awesome. I believe this is my first time in the top-eight at conference.
“During finals I’ll try to go out fast with the rest of the women, and we’ll see what happens.”
Also earning a spot in the 200 IM finals was Daisy Marquardt, who posted the 20th-best time of prelims with a mark of 2:12.17. The freshman cut 4.48 seconds off her previous season-best time.
In the 50 yard freestyle five different Warriors competed, with Bailey Lemmon leading the way in heat 11. Lemmon set a new Westmont record by completing the sprint in 24.43 seconds, which was 0.09 seconds faster than the previous best mark. The previous program record was held by none other than Lemmon herself, and was set when she swam a 24.52 at NAIA Nationals her freshman year.
The senior posted the 14th-best time of prelims, earning her a spot in the finals during the evening.
“The 50 free is my favorite individual event,” nodded Lemmon. “I like to get hyped and excited before, and in this race that’s easy, because it’s the most fun race. I entered in a bit of a slower heat than last week so I was out ahead of the rest of the girls, which made for a better race for me. That one is just a ton of fun to compete in.”
Elsewhere, Emma Diehl earned a spot in the finals after she swam a season-best 50 of 24.82, which was 23rd-best during prelims. Also competing during the 50 yard freestyle was Leighton Bell, who achieved the NAIA B-Standard with a time of 25.58.
A pair of Westmont seniors swam their season-best times in the 50 free as well, with both Gaby Rego and Emma Leathers posting new year-bests. Rego trimmed 0.44 seconds off her time with a mark of 28.18, and Leathers cut 2.82 seconds off with a time of 29.90.
“Everyone has been asking if I’m sad about this being my last meet,” reflected Leathers, “but no, I don’t feel sad. I’ve had a great career. I had the honor of swimming in college and have had so much fun. Hopefully over the last couple days I can collect a few more best times, but regardless, I couldn’t have asked for a better season.”
In the evening Westmont kicked things off with competition in the 200 yard freestyle relay. The Warriors’ A-Team posted the eighth-best time of the event with a mark of 1:40.11. Stealing the headlines of the race was Lemmon, who did not let her program record in the 50 free last more than six hours.
After setting the Westmont record with a time of 24.43 in the morning, Lemmon broke it again on the first leg of the 200 relay. This time, Lemmon placed her name atop of the program record list with a 50 yard freestyle time of 24.28.
Next in the pool was Garrison, who competed in heat two of the 500 yard freestyle finals. Garrison finished sixth in her heat and by a fraction of a set just missed breaking her own program record from earlier in the day.
After swimming a 5:10.24 in the morning, the sophomore finished with a mark of 5:10.33 in the evening.
Marquardt competed in the first heat of the 200 IM, and posted a time of 2:12.49, which was less than half a second off of her time from earlier in the day.
In the championship of the 200 IM Chaisson earned All-PCSC status with a seventh place finish. Following the trend of Westmont’s continuous improvements, Chaisson shaved nearly a full second off of her time from the morning, this time finishing in sixth place with a season-best time of 2:08.28. In doing so, Chaisson became the first Warrior of the meet to be named to the All-Conference team.
Westmont capped off the day with the 50 yard freestyle finals, which featured both Diehl and Lemmon. In the first heat, Diehl capped off her day with a time of 24.79, which was a season-best mark by 0.03 seconds.
In heat two, Lemmon completed her trilogy of record-breaking performances when she finished her final 50 free in 24.05. After coming into the day with a program record that was three years old, Lemmon set a new record on three separate occasions, cementing her place atop Westmont’s all-time leaderboard.
“I just feed off the energy of all my amazing teammates,” reflected Lemmon. “I love the 50, but more than anything I love seeing my teammates at the end of the lane. They’ve given me energy all day long, and it’s just really exciting to get to compete for them.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet, but wow, I dropped half a second off my 50 in one day. That’s insane, and I’m stoked.”
Westmont’s record setting day made for a very pleased head coach at night’s end.
Head Coach Jill Jones Lin said, “For Bailey, knowing how far she’s come, to get to go out there and go lifetime-best after lifetime-best is pretty impressive.
“The whole day was really great. Starting out with the 500s, we had some great races, and then Olivia broke the school record again and moved up again in the NAIA rankings. Ella making it to the finals in the 200 IMs was huge. Daisy went a lifetime best in that as well, and Rian and Abigail went lifetime-bests too.
“Then at the end of the day, to see our sprinting pay, was fantastic.”
The Warriors dive back in tomorrow morning at 9:30, when the 100 butterfly kicks off day three.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.