By Kyle Wills
Following a fifth and sixth place finish in the 2022 Horizon League Championships, the Youngstown State University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams cannon-balled into the 2022-2023 season at the Akron Zips Classic Oct. 7 to 8.
The men shined the brightest as they recorded 11 victories over the two-day event. Leading the way was sophomore Aleksa Radenovic with four victories. Radenovic earned individual wins in the 200 individual medley,1:51.81; 100 back, 49.86; 100 fly, 49.33; and 200 fly, 1:46.82.
Head coach Brad Smith said Radenovic faced early-season concerns but was able to overcome them with his showing at the classic.
“We were a little concerned because [Aleksa] didn’t swim as much as he would’ve liked and as much as we would’ve liked for his summer time, so we’ve been trying to catch him up over these last couple weeks since he got back. We knew he could and he did,” Smith said.
Juniors Rares Druga and Soma Albert and sophomore Dominic Bono picked up individual victories. Druga finished first in the 50 freestyle in 20.77, Albert won the 200 back with a time of 1:48.73 and Bono was the first to finish in the 400 IM with a time of 4:02.76.
Freshman James Slessor added to the victory total with two event wins in the 100 breast and 200 breast with times of 55.59 and 2:03.91. With his collegiate career off to a great start, Slessor said he didn’t think he’d achieve his childhood goals.
“It’s such a great start to my college career. Little 8-year-old James, when he was back in New Zealand setting long-term goals and never thought he’d be winning Division I meets in his first [competition],” Slessor said. “I’m really stoked for my college journey to start off in such a way, it’s exciting to see where [I] go from here.”
Radenovic, Albert, Slessor, and junior Gavin Redden claimed first in the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:20.46. The men also won the 200 free relay with Druga, Redden, Radenovic, and junior Darren Laing, clocking a 1:24.13.
Last year’s 1650 freestyle winner at the league championships, junior Gavin Webb finished second in the 500 free and 1650 free with times of 4:34.81 and 16:01.79. Christian Taylor was behind in the 500 free, finishing with a time of 4:38.69.
Webb also placed second in the 400 IM, finishing with a 4:03.84. Junior Crispy Barton was just behind him in the 400 IM in third, recording a time of 4:05.49.
Laing earned a third-place finish in the 50 free with a time of 21.32. Albert finished third in the 100 back, clocking a 51.37. Redden swam a 46.38 to place third in the 100 free.
Junior Cody Thill placed second in the men’s three-meter dive with a score of 233.40 and freshman Brooks Adams was third in the one-meter dive with a score of 223.30.
For the women, freshman Miriam Frass had a strong showing as she won the women’s 500 free in 4:57.71, the third-fastest time in program history. She also placed second in the 1650 free with a time of 17:13.11 and recorded a 1:54.25 time in the 200 free to place fifth.
With a strong freshman class, Smith said Frass is proving to be an asset to the team.
“She showed that she’s a jack of all trades. We had a great women’s freshman class come in and Miriam is definitely defining her role in that freshman class,” Smith said.
Graduate student Kayla Wrasman finished fifth in the one-meter dive with a score of 216.95 and graduate student Tess Weiskopf scored a 207.30 to place sixth.
As a team, the men scored 1398.5 points to defeat Denison University, who had 1092 points and Xavier University, with 926.5 points. The women scored 312 points while Xavier had 268.5. Akron finished with 1612 points, Bowling Green University had 785 and Denison finished with 687.5.
The swimming and diving teams look to continue to make a splash on its season Oct. 29 as it travels to Niagara Falls, N.Y. to take on both Niagara University and St. Francis University at the Oxy Aquatic Center.