The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Swimming: Vanderbilt defeats Illinois by razor-thin margin

The Commodores put together a 134-128 victory against Illinois in their first home meet since Jan. 2020.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt swimming competes against Tulane on Nov. 6. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

On Sat. Oct. 30, the Vanderbilt swimming team did something they had not done in almost two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic: hold a meet at home. Hosting the University of Illinois in a dual nonconference meet at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville, the Commodores evenly clashed with the Fighting Illini in 14 events—a competition that took until the last race to decide the winner. Head coach Jeremy Organ told The Hustler he expected the tight outcome coming into the weekend.

“We knew that it was going to be a really close meet and so we just wanted to put ourselves in a good situation to come out with a win at the end of the day,” Organ said.

Vanderbilt and Illinois went back and forth throughout the meet, exchanging victories in a competition where every hundredth of a second mattered toward deciding the final point tally.

Seniors Tonner DeBeer and Abby Burke took first and second in the 100-yard backstroke with times of 56.30 and 57.84 seconds, respectively. However, when it came to the 200-yard race in the same stroke, Illinois’ Sydney Stoll and Hannah Aegerter came in the top two spots. 

This fierce competition continued into the other strokes as well. Divya Kale from Illinois out-touched Vanderbilt senior Francesca Neubauer by 0.3 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke for a time of 1:05.21. However, Neubauer bounced back from this close loss and won the 200-yard breaststroke by exactly one second with a time of 2:20.99. 

In the 100-yard butterfly competition, DeBeer picked up another win with a time of 55.33 seconds, and Vanderbilt first-years Kailia Utley and Karsyn Cook placed second and third to pick up more crucial points for the Commodores. In the 200-yard butterfly, though, Illinois’ Cara Bogner (2:01.87) came in first in front of Utley (2:03.12) who took second and Vandy first-year Clare Vetkoetter (2:07.98) who finished third.

The freestyle competitions slightly favored the Illinois Fighting Illini as they won the 100, 200 and 500-yard races. The Commodores were not completely out of the running, though, in these three races and continued to pick up points from lower-place finishes. Vanderbilt first-year Mercedes Traba outlasted the field in the 1000-yard freestyle, however, securing nine points for the Commodores in her victory with a time of 10:20.19. The shortest race of the meet, the 50-yard freestyle sprint, finished in an exact tie between Vanderbilt’s Gray Almasi and Illinois’ Lily Olson at 23.84 seconds causing the swimmers to receive 6.5 points each.

As the meet came to a close with one race remaining, Vanderbilt had tallied 123 points compared to Illinois’ 122: it all came down to the 200-yard freestyle relay, where Vandy’s top team was composed of Almasi, DeBeer, junior Chantal Jordan and sophomore Eleanor Beers.

“We knew that the relay was going to dictate the winner of the meet,” Organ shared. “It was pretty exciting, a lot of fun, and a great atmosphere from start to finish.”

Vanderbilt and Illinois’ top teams were never separated by more than a second throughout the entire four-legged relay, and the result of the entire meet rested on the final touch of anchors Beers from Vanderbilt and Abby Cabush from Illinois. Beers reached for the wall just a hair quicker than Cabush, and the Commodores finished in 1:34.20 to the Fighting Illini’s 1:34.35—giving the meet to Vanderbilt in a dramatic fashion.

While Organ saw great excitement in that specific race decided by 0.15 seconds, he pointed to the depth of the team across the entire meet as the key ingredient to victory against Illinois.

“Everybody had to contribute in order to have a positive outcome from the weekend,” Organ said. “No matter where you were in those races, those are points that added up in the end that helped us win.”

The Commodores followed up that performance with a home win against Tulane 149-111 on Sat. Nov. 6 and will next compete at the University of Miami Invitational held Nov. 18-20.

Leave a comment
About the Contributor
Matthew Shipley
Matthew Shipley, Former Senior Staff Writer
Matthew Shipley (‘25) is from Hendersonville, Tenn., and is majoring in economics, mathematics and political science and minoring in data science. He enjoys closely following the U.S. Supreme Court, playing basketball and being involved in his faith community. He can be reached at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments