BRONX, N.Y. — The opening day of the CUNYAC Championship featured four records broken and Baruch in the lead in both the men’s and women’s competitions.
With six events in the books and Baruch’s women finished with 288 points, 37 ahead of second place Hunter. John Jay stands third with 188 points. On the men’s side, the Bearcats (264) hold a slight lead ahead of their hosts, Lehman (259.5) and Staten Island, who took all six first-place medals, ranked third with 202 points.
Staten Island’s John Pignatelli with 284.15 points opened the day winning the 1-meter diving competition. Pignatelli finished 66.15 points higher than Victor Pren (Lehman) the runner-up. Simultaneously, the CSI freshman Stephany Collyer topped the women’s 3-Meter with 301.75 points for the gold medal.
The swimming events kicked off with a bang, as a foursome (Apolonia Cieslak, Denisse Duran-Llano, Alyssa Lubrino, Julia Sung) from Baruch set a new championship record in the 200-yard free with a blazing time of 1:41.35. Sung and Lubrino would team up again with freshman Sally Lim and defending Championship MVP Priscilla Arana in the last women’s race of the night, the 400-yard Medley Realy with another CUNYAC record (4:19.33).
“For the 200 freestyle relay, we weren’t looking for first place, we were kind of trying to be the first women to qualify for ECACs on our team,” Sung said. “The cut was 1:43.33 so basically for the entire season all we said was, “1:43.33” like all the time. That was our one goal. Not only did we get first place, but we beat it by two seconds. For the 400 medley relay, I can’t believe we got first place and we beat the record by like 16 seconds or something like that.”
The men’s 200-yard freestyle relay followed and Staten Island (Danila Novikov, Timur Rakhimov, Andrey Tarasov, Yury Zimarev) took gold again with a 1:28 flat mark, just 0.14 seconds off the record set by three different All-American swimmers last year. The same four CSI swimmers would cap the night with first place in the 400-yard medley relay with a 3:32.92 time.
Individual races were led off with the 500-yard freestyle and Baruch’s Duran-Llano, a freshman, captured her second gold in as many races with a 5:46.55 mark. Staten Island’s Vladislav Romanov, a 10-time All-American won his first gold medal of his senior meet with a 4:49.17 in the men’s 500-yard freestyle.
Next up was the 200-yard individual medley. Baruch freshman Sally Lim won the Bearcats third consecutive event on the women’s side with a 2:22.98 time. Tarasov then won his first individual gold for the Dolphins in the men’s 200-yard IM with a stellar 1:56.97 time.
The ultimate sprint followed, the 50-yard freestyle, and for the second consecutive year, Shirley Falconi from Queensborough took the overall gold, breaking her own championship record with a 25.18 mark. Lubrino (25.38) and Cieslak took home the top two senior college spots in the race.
“I had it in my mind to break the record today, because the previous record was mine, so that was my goal,” Falconi said. “I have only been training for a month because of school, so it was a goal to break the record again. Tomorrow we have the 100 back, which will be my first time swimming it at this meet and on Saturday I will have my 100 freestyle, which I set a record in last year, so that is my second goal.”
Zimarev then claimed his first individual gold (third of the day) with a CUNYAC record breaking, NCAA qualifying 21.57 in the Men’s 50-yard Freestyle.
“We swam real well today,” Baruch head coach Charles Lampasso said. “Our ‘A’ swimmers are up there doing what they need to do. It is our depth that is coming up and stepping up and doing a real good job. That is what has put our women first. Hunter is battling right with us, so we’re neck and neck with them. On the men’s side, Lehman is holding their own and CSI is winning events, but our depth is just carrying us. It’s my depth swimmers, those seeded 16th that are taking 12th and allowing us to drag down the points.”