Photo by Larry Newman
LA MIRADA, Calif. (Feb. 20, 2016) – Freshman Brittany Percin (Moraga, Calif. / Stanford Online) became the first female swimmer to claim a SCIAC title in Caltech women's swimming and diving history on Day Three of the SCIAC Championships.
Having entered the meet already holding six program records, the rookie has continued her onslaught of the archives with two new marks in the same swim on Thursday and another on Friday. She outdid herself Saturday, threatening the SCIAC Championship meet record with a 1:52.52 200 Free, good for her first career NCAA 'B' cut.
The Beavers continued to build momentum throughout the four-day meet with an incredible preliminary session in the morning. Freshman Gemma Takahashi (San Jose, Calif. / Leland) kicked things off as she shocked the entire conference with a two-and-a-half second drop in the 100 Fly, posting the top time of the session in a program-record 57.51. Percin immediately followed with a second-place time in the 200 Free, just one second behind the leader and nearly two clear of third place. Junior Kate Evans (Cumming, Ga. / Lambert) also shaved six seconds to clock a 2:25.70 and freshman Xiaohan Xue (Memphis, Tenn. / White Station) trimmed four in the 100 Breast.
Takahashi picked right up where she left off after a three-event break, lowering her own 100 Back program record by a second and a half to qualify for the finals in seventh with a 59.62. Senior Grace Lee (Artesia, Calif. / Gretchen Whitney) sealed the Beavers' perfect streak of personal-best times with a two-second drop in the 100 Back (1:19.14).
Prior to finals, junior Zofii Kaczmarek (New York, N.Y. / Stuyvesant) bettered last year's 10th-place finish on the 3-meter board, qualifying for finals Sunday night in seventh place. Takahashi then opened the night session just three tenths of a second off her morning time, dropping back to fourth place to earn 17 points for Caltech. The rookie found herself in sixth place at the turn but held strong through the second 50 to come within .13 of reaching the podium.
Percin left nothing to chance in the 200, chopping off another second to record an astounding 1:52.52, just .19 off the meet record and half a second under the NCAA 'B" cut threshold. She took the first 50 out easy, sitting in fifth place before steadily building the middle 100. By the halfway point, she was in third and, heading into the final 50, she had taken the lead, which she continued to stretch right to the wall.
Takahashi came with a ninth-place finish in the 100 Back to add another 12 points to the Beavers' tally, which, along with Percin's 22 and the ensuing 400 Medley Relay's 24, brought Caltech's total to 172 – almost double last year's total after three days and just 33 points out of eighth place.
Head Coach Jack Leavitt and the Beavers cap their season with the final day of the SCIAC Championships tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 21. The Sunday meet schedule includes the 200 Back, 100 Free, 200 Breast, 200 Fly, 1650 Free, women's 3-meter diving and 400 Free Relay.