Eagles dive into national championship meet

Strong relays propel swim in first day of season’s final meet.

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Eagles dive into national championship meet

Jacob Knopf/THE CHIMES

Jacob Knopf/THE CHIMES

Jacob Knopf/THE CHIMES

Jacob Knopf/THE CHIMES

Austin Green, Writer

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Only two events took place during the first day of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics swim and dive championships in Columbus, GA, but the Eagles still found a way to build upon the progress they have made this season. Eight of the Biola’s top swimmers teamed up to put impressive marks in men’s and women’s 800-yard freestyle relays.

The women earned All-American honors with their relay time. Freshman Emily Silzel, sophomore Rebecca Brandt, freshman Bethany Harper and superstar junior Lisa Tixier clocked in at 7:41.47, good enough for third overall. Savannah College of Art and Design of the Appalachian Athletic Conference and Olivet Nazarene University of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference were the only two teams who finished with faster times.

The men finished ninth overall in their relay, but their silver lining came in the form of a season-best 6:58.04 time. Senior Michael Severi, freshman Andrew Benson, freshman Raymond Kam and junior Tom Franicevich combined for the impressive mark. Benson in particular shone in his first taste at a collegiate national championship, as his 1:42.34 split proved the fastest time in his squad.

The Eagles are just beginning  in Columbus. They have three consecutive days of competition starting on March 2 at the NAIA national championships before they bid farewell to the association and head towards an offseason of gearing up for their first season in NCAA Division II next fall.