The Akron Zips won the MAC Swimming and Diving Championships for the first time in school history on Saturday evening at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The team scored 574 points during the course of the three-day meet and defeated second-place Miami by 78 points.
The Zips are the fourth different team to win the title in the last four seasons. However, they are the first team outside of the group of Miami, Ohio, Toledo and Eastern Michigan to win a title since Bowling Green did it -- in 1981. This is also only the sixth time that Miami or Ohio did not win the championship in the 34-year history of the meet, but five of those occurrences have been in the last nine years.
Akron managed to win the meet through their team depth, as the team captured only three of the 20 event championships and just one in an individual event. The Zips won the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relay, and Hannah Raspopovich became the MAC champion in the 50-yard freestyle after a swim of 22.76 seconds. Akron earned a total of nine top-three finishes, however, which was more than all but one other school.
Miami and Bowling Green finished second and third, respecitvely, although neither earned a gold medal during the meet. BGSU's team featured five second-place finishes and three more in third place, while Miami flipped those totals. The Falcons' second-place finishes took place in the 100-yard freestyle, both breaststroke races, and the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays. The RedHawks earned silver medals in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events, as well as the 500-yard freestyle.
Amazingly, Buffalo placed fifth in the event despite having 13 top-three finishes during the meet. They won eight of the 20 championships and were runners-up four times. The Bulls won the 400 and 800 free relays in which BGSU placed second. They also dominated the freestyle and individual medley swims.
Brittney Kuras won MAC championships in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle for the Bulls. In the latter race, she set a MAC record with a time of 48.50 seconds. She won a third championship in the 200-yard individual medley. Jessica Powers added two MAC championships to Buffalo's total, as she won in the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle races. Spencer Rodriguez joined Kuras and Powers by winning gold in the 400-yard individual medley.
Ohio and Ball State joined Akron with three gold medals, helped in large part by swimmers who won two individual titles.
For the Bobcats, Addy Ferguson won the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke. In the backstroke event, Ferguson finished in 53.10 seconds, which set a new MAC record. Ohio's third gold came thanks to Morgan Srail's 339.05 points in the three-meter diving event.
Bridgette Ruehl swept the championships in the breaststroke events for Ball State. She set pool records in both races. The Cardinals also won a title in the 400-yard medley relay.
The other individual championships went to Eastern Michigan's Danielle Hulvey (one-meter diving) and Jessie Godlewski (200-yard butterfly), as well as Toledo's Christina Noens (200-yard backstroke).