OKLAHOMA CITY, March 9, 2014 – Brenau University’s Golden Tigers swimming team ranked 4th in the nation and its coach Blaire Bachman collected a share of national coach-of-the-year honors Saturday, March 8, following an outstanding performance the 2014 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving National Championships in Oklahoma City.
The young Tigers team broke into national prominence two years ago to finish the season ranked No. 8 in the nation following the national meet that year. It has shown steady improvement since.
The team’s 344 points at the end of Saturday’s finals edged out the more experienced Concordia University team and put the Tigers in the ranks of No. 3 Olivet Nazarene University, No. 2 SCAD and two-time champion Oklahoma Baptist University.
Bachman shared the NAIA Women’s Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year honors with Scott Teeters of Olivet Nazarene, who also won the NAIA Men’s Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year.
“I am incredibly proud to represent Brenau University and even prouder of the hard work and dedication our swimmers put into earning a fourth place finish, the highest finish in Brenau history,” Bachman said. “This is a team effort that began in August with our team dreaming big goals. Today we celebrate this accomplishment. We look forward to what’s ahead of us next year.”
In addition to the coach-of-the-year accolades and the 4th place finish, the Golden Tigers national meet performance included 16 personal best times, 12 new team records, six individual All Americans, two All American relays, two runner-up titles and two individual national titles.
Brenau freshman Courtney Hayward of Townsville, Australia, followed her two national championship performances in Thursday and Friday events with a runner-up finish Saturday in the 1650 Free, beating her own team record with 17:02.45. In a rivalry that lasted the whole meeting, Hayward battled SCAD Savannah sophomore Caroline Lepesant, who set the title time at 16:54.23.
Freshman Talia Sola from Madrid, Spain, who set the qualifying time to beat along with a new Brenau record at 2:01.68, came in second in the finals of the 200-Yard Backstroke. Shelby Rumker from Douglas, Ga., took seventh place in the 100 Free (52.82) and broke the team record previously held by Michelle Billeaud from Lafayette, La.
Billeaud finished a solid 7th place in the 200 Butterfly with 2:11.17. Her preliminary time, a personal best, was a faster 2:10.87.
In the 200 Breaststroke, Mary Katherine Jabbia from Slidell, La., challenged the finals staying in second place until the final turn. She finished fifth overall with 2:24.62. Her time in prelims (2:23.69), however, broke the previous record held by Brenau’s three-time NAIA All American Hannah Boudreaux.
Saturday evening ended with the women’s 400 Free Relay, with Brenau coming up three places short of All American status, hitting the wall 6th (3:34.70).