Swimmers Qualify for Big East Tournament

Over the weekend the St. John’s men’s and women’s swimming teams headed to New Jersey to compete in the Princeton Invitational.

Out of the eight schools that participated, the SJU men finished third while the women placed fifth.

Princeton University, the host school, earned the top spot in both the men and women’s competition.

The meet also gave St. John’s swimmers a chance to qualify to race in the Big East Championships by finishing at or under the Big East A cut qualifying times in their respective events.

Overall, the Red Storm posted 32 such times, with the men racking up 22 and the women 10.

“If someone told me these were times we are going to swim before we went and asked me if I would take them,” St. John’s Head Coach John Skudin said, “I would have said, ‘most definitely.'”

Marcin Filipowicz and Gregory Danner both had a big weekend for the men’s team.

Filipowicz recorded four Big East A cut times. He finished second in both the 200 and 1650-yard Freestyle with times of 1:39.82 and 15:51.65, as well as the 800-yard Freestyle Relay with Milos Cerovic, Michael Szapiel and Pawel Sokolowski – which posted a Big East cut A time of 6:46.73.

Danner would post six Big East A cut times, the best of which were third place finishes in the 400-yard IM and the 200-yard Butterfly with times of 4:02.40 and 1:50, respectively.

“I’m extremely happy with the way he swam,” Skudin said of Danner’s performance. “He is really starting to step up and is attacking his races with much more confidence.”

His other Big East A cut qualifying times came in the 200-yard IM (1:52.98), 100-yard Butterfly (51.24), the 200-yard Freestyle Relay (1:27.40), and 400-yard Medley Relay (3:24.58) with Arakdiusz Znachowski, Cerovic and Sokolowski.

Sokolowski also swam to a second place finish and a Big East A cut time of 45.59 in the 100-yard Freestyle, while Szapiel finished second in the 500-yard Freestyle posting a Big East A cut time of 4:31.39.

On the women’s side, the relay teams were able to qualify for the Big East Championships, which will be held in late February.

Five teams posted Big East A cut qualifying times, with their best finish coming from the 800-yard Freestyle relay team of Laura Nuudi, Elizabeth Malinowski, Darinka Savcic and Melissa Kolackovsky which finished sixth and clocked a time of 7:50.79.

Another team of Caitlin Ranney, Christine Myers, Maya Ziolkoski and Kolackovsky also swam to a sixth place finish (1:39.82) in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay.

“The women had an outstanding meet,” Skudin said. “We had so many girls swim the best times they ever swam in their lives and do a great job improving themselves.”

One of these improvements was made by Kolackovsky, who broke the St. John’s school record in the 100-yard Butterfly clocking a time of 58.72.

She also placed second in the 50-yard Freestyle, finishing with a Big East A cut time of 24.23.

Because of the strong relays, many of the women got what Skudin called the “one magic A time,” which will allow then to swim in the Big East Championships.

This was the last meet of the calendar year for both teams.

They will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico from Jan. 7-15 to train and compete in a meet against rival Syracuse.

“This is our last big push before the Big East Championships and it will give the team a different and warm setting to train in,” said Skudin.

The Red Storm will have their first home meet of the New Year on Feb. 5 against Villanova.