Despite a top-five finish nationally, the Grand Canyon University men’s swim team had been aiming higher. However, they came away from the 2019 season with an accomplishment that may have meant even more.
They finished the regular season with the school’s first-ever Western Athletic Conference Championship in the sport.
And the icing on the cake for the Antelopes was the selection of Mark Nikolaev as the WAC Swimmer of the Year. This marks the third year in a row that the senior from Seltsovkaya, Russia, has earned the honor.
Nikolaev won his third individual title in the 200-yard backstroke, clocking a time of 1:41.29 for this win.
The men’s team put together 495.5 points for the fourth-place finish at the nationals, while the GCU women’s team collected 50 points to come in at 30th place. For the men, it was depth at many events that enabled them to place that high.
The Antelopes collected six top-10 finishes in swimming and two more in diving – and then added four winning relays.
Mazen Shoukri finished fourth in the 100 freestyle (44.06) and Alonso Carazo Barbero took fourth in the 1,650 freestyle (15:32.30). Three swimmers picked up sixth-place finishes: Cameron Carney in the 200 backstroke (1:47.06), Florent Janin in the 100 freestyle (44.14), and Asahi Nagahata in the 200 breaststroke (1:59.69). Kainan Coerin added a seventh-place finish in the 200 back (1:48.17).
On the diving boards, Nick Benson took second on the platform (291.35) and Pietro Hufnagel came in eighth (229.90).
Making perhaps the biggest splash, so to speak, was senior Daniil Antipoy who not only captured his third individual WAC title by once again winning the 200 butterfly. Even more impressive, his time of 1:42.55 set a new WAC Championships record.
This year’s squad was focused and ready, winning all three events on Saturday to take a sizable lead into the remaining three days of the event held this year in Houston, TX.
(Photo: GCU Athletics)