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Dienstag ends 18-year All-UAA drought

From Feb. 8 to Feb. 11, the Brandeis men’s and women’s swim and dive teams competed at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships in Atlanta, Georgia. Both teams competed hard and set school records at the four-day event. Last year the men’s team finished in eighth place with 417 points while the women’s team also finished in eighth place but with 484.5 points. 

On day one, the women’s team started with a seventh-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The group of four consisted of senior Bailey Gold ’23, sophomore Chloe Gonzalez ’25, junior Maya Haubrich ’24 and first-year Nicole Caruso ’26. Their time was 7:48.62 which broke the school record by 3.69 seconds. Gold also broke the school record for the 200-yard freestyle when leading off the relay with a time of 1:55.53. On the men’s side, the Judges came in sixth place for the 800-yard freestyle relay. The group was led by junior Sam Dienstag ’24, who also broke the record for 200-yard freestyle when leading off the relay with a time of 1:39.68. He was followed by first-year Eric Xiao ’26, senior James Smith ’23 and first-year Benjamin Lee ’26. Overall, they finished the race in 6:50.86 which also broke the school record by 5.27 seconds. In diving, first-year David Zavala ’26 finished in 18th with a score of 205.05. After day one, both the men’s and women’s teams were in sixth place with scores of 72 and 70 respectively.

Day two began with the preliminaries. The women’s team started with a sixth-place finish in the 200-yard relay. This team was made of Gonzalez, junior Monica Iizuka ’24, Caruso and Haubrich. Their time was 1:40.07. The day continued with a 38th-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley (IM) for first-year Becca Kaplan ’26. She finished the race in 2:15.69. Iizuka also finished 32nd in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25:03. In the finals, Iizuka, first-year Audrey Teo ’26, Gold and Gonzalez finished in eighth place for the 400-yard medley relay. It was a new school record by 0.1 seconds with a time of 3:57.88. For the men’s team, the preliminaries started with seventh-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay. This group consisted of first-year Eric Cherny ’26, sophomore Spector Tal ’25, first-year AJ Martinez ’26 and junior Leone Kisler ’24 and they finished in 1:27.22. Dienstag followed that with a school record-breaking performance in the 500-yard freestyle. He placed third with a time of 4:26.13. Sophomore Andrew Ngo ’25 also broke a school record, but in the 200-yard IM. His 1:53.89-second time was faster than the previous record by 0.79 seconds and also led to him finishing in 22nd. In the finals, the men’s team started with an eighth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The team of Dienstag, senior Benton Ferebee ’23, Lee and Xio completed the race in 1:25.74. Dienstag competed in the 500-yard freestyle finals and continued his strong day with a fourth-place finish in 4:27.20. Ngo also went on to compete in the 200-yard IM finals and he finished in 24th with a time of 1:54.64. The men’s team ended the day in eighth place of the 400-yard medley relay. Ferebee, Xiao, Smith and Dienstag combined for the 3:27.92 finish. After the end of day two, the men’s team was in seventh place with 238 points and the women’s team was in eighth place with 180 points. 

One day later and the Judges were continuing to set school records. Sophomore Anastasia Bekou ’25, Kaplan, Gonzalez and sophomore Eva Parson ’25 got the preliminaries started with a solid seventh-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay. They ended the race in 1:50.76. Caruso then came in 19th for the 400-yard IM to move to the finals. Both Gold and Gonzalez moved on to the finals in the 100-yard butterfly after finishing in 10th and 24th respectively. Iizuka closed out the preliminaries for the women’s team with a 18th place finish in the 100-yard backstroke in 58.56. In the finals, the 200-yard medley relay team of Iizuka, Kaplan, Gold and Gonzalez finished in seventh with a time of 1:47.86. For the 400-yard IM, Caruso competed in the C final and finished 18th overall with a time of 4:36.70. Gold then competed in the B final for the 100-yard butterfly and placed 15th overall with a time of 57.78. Gonzalez competed in the C final and ended in 20th place in 58.50. Iizuka ended the day for the women’s team when competing in the C final of the 100-yard backstroke. She placed 17th overall in 58.27. For the men’s team, they got started with the 200-yard medley relay in the preliminaries. They were led by a school record-breaking performance in the 50-yard backstroke for the relay from Ferebee. He was joined by senior Joshua Liu ’23, Cherney and junior Ryan Schulken ’24 as they finished in eighth place and moved on to the finals. Smith followed that with a 21st-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly that allowed him to move on to the finals. In the 200-yard freestyle both Dienstag and Lee moved on to the finals. Then Ngo and Ferebee advanced to the finals in the 100-yard breaststroke and backstroke respectively. For the 200-yard medley finals, Ferebee was joined by Xiao, Smith and Dienstag as they placed seventh in 1:32.99. This was a new school record by 0.53 seconds. Smith competed in the C final of the 100-yard butterfly and placed 21st overall with a time of 50.30. Dienstag and Lee both competed in the C final for the 200-yard freestyle and finished right next to each other in 22nd and 23rd. Diestang finished in 1:41.86 and Lee was right behind him in 1:42.97. For the C final of the 100-yard breaststroke, Ngo finished in 57.83 and 23rd overall. To end day three, Ferebee placed 20th in the 100-yard backstroke in 51.75. The men’s team ended the day in eighth place with 301 points while the women’s team was also in eighth place with 280 points. 

The fourth and final day of the UAA Championships saw many great performances from the men’s and women’s teams. Individually, Gonzalez and Gold both made it to the finals after strong races in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly preliminaries respectively. Gonzalez competed in the C final for the 100-yard freestyle and placed 23rd overall after finishing in 53.66. Gold swam in the A final of the 200-yard butterfly and finished eighth overall. Her time was 2:06.86. Gold also swam in the 400-yard freestyle relay with Iizuka, Caruso and Gonzalez. They placed eighth overall with a time of 3:36.79. On the men’s side, six swimmers made it to the finals. Dienstag in the 1650-yard freestyle, Spector in the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard backstroke, Ngo in the 200-yard breaststroke and first-year Sam Bundy ’26 in the 200-yard butterfly. Ngo also competed with Ferebee, Lee and Solomon Skelton-Harris ’26 in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Dienstag was phenomenal in the 1650-yard freestyle final. He placed third overall and set a new school record with a 15:25.93. This third place finish is the first swimming All-UAA placement for Brandeis since 2005. In the 200-yard backstroke Spector finished 24th with a time of 2:00.64. He also swam in the 200-yard butterfly final and placed 23rd overall in 1:55.85. Bundy joined Spector and placed 24th with a 1:59.07 time. Ngo placed 24th in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:07.67. Then to end the day, Ngo, Ferebee, Lee and Skelton-Harris raced in final A of the 400-yard freestyle relay. They got 8th place with a time of 3:10.31. 

Overall, the both teams placed eighth overall with the men’s team having 399 points and the women’s team with 387 points. Dienstag will next compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina between March 15 and March 18. He is set to swim in the 200-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle and 1650 yard freestyle.

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