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Hurricanes Enjoy Strong First Day at Miami Invite

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami swimming team enjoyed a strong first day at the Miami Invite Wednesday at the Whitten Center Pool.

The Hurricanes, who are hosting Vanderbilt for the three-day event, emerged with a 291-266 day lead after the first day of competition.

“What a great day in so many different ways. I think to start with, the opportunity to be back at our home pool and have a home meet and to see the team totally embrace that opportunity and grab it and make the most of it, I’m very excited for them and happy for them,” head swimming coach Andy Kershaw said. “I’m proud of the way they did it.”

After a dual meet at Florida and across the state for the U.S. Open that saw just sophomore Isabel Traba and freshman Savannah Barr compete, Kershaw saw a team relishing the opportunity to compete at home.

“The vibe at our pool when we have home meets is special, and they definitely kept that rolling,” he said. “They really took a lot of pride and ownership in defending the home turf, which was great to see. The excitement they had and the opportunity for them to get that experience after a lot of stuff that’s happened…to have that celebration moment and to get to finally ‘play the game,’ a lot of thanks goes out to a lot of people that helped make it happen and a lot of sacrifice by a lot of people. It starts with our team.”

The ‘A’ final in each individual event was comprised of four total swimmers – the top-two performers from Miami and Vanderbilt. The rest of the field qualified for ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D’ finals based on performance, irrespective of team.

Miami’s top entry in the 200-yard freestyle relay – comprised of Barr, senior co-captain Carmen San Nicolas, freshman Emma Sundstrand and senior co-captain Sydney Knapp – captured the top finish in the event in a time of 1:33.44.

“There were some tremendous swims today. I love the leadership we get out of the seniors, whether they’re anchoring relays or leading off relays,” he said. “They really set the tone in the team meetings they’ve shown the way on how to do it and people are getting right in line and following their example.”

Sophomore Aino Otava continued on that momentum with the sixth-best time in school history in the 500-yard freestyle (4:49.93). Barr took second (4:52.53) in the ‘A’ final of the event.

“Going under 4:50, that was a great swim for her,” Kershaw said of Otava’s performance. “After a first year that had a lot of challenges in it, it was great to see her get that moment.”

Sophomore Andrea Todorovic (2:02.33) and Sundstrand (2:02.71) went head-to-head for the top-two finishes in the 200-yard IM, and Knapp was dominant in her first-place finish in the ‘A’ final of the 50-yard freestyle (23.22).

The Hurricanes capped a strong first day with a first-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay. Senior Alaina Skellett, Sundstrand, Traba and Barr finished in a time of 3:42.44.

“It was a special day,” Kershaw said. “I’m really excited about how we did today. There’s a lot more to do. I’m looking forward to tomorrow – there are different events and different strategies and things to execute. We’re excited for the opportunity and I’m proud of them for continuing to do it.”

The Miami Invite continues Wednesday from the Whitten Center Pool.