When head coach Whitney Hite picked up the number-one recruit in the class of 2016 in current sophomore Beata Nelson, her impact on the team — and on the record book -—was not fully felt. That all changed at the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational this past weekend, however.
In Thursday’s 200-yard individual medley, Nelson’s first individual event, she annihilated the oldest school record on the books, a 10-year-old mark set by alumna Yi Ting Siow. Nelson’s time of 1:55.16 in the prelim bested Siow’s 2007 mark by over two seconds.
Hite praised Nelson in an interview with UWBadgers.com after her first win, saying that “hopefully people nationally will start to see what we see, and what we have known for a while. She's starting to reach her potential and figure things out. It's awesome to see."
Nelson didn’t stop there though. On Friday, the second day of individual competition, both the school and Big Ten records in the 100-yard backstroke fell in an unbelievable swim from the sophomore. Nelson’s time of 50.79 bests Maggie Meyer’s time of 51.66 from 2011 as well as Minnesota alum Brooklynn Snodgrass’ 51.05 Big Ten record from 2014.
In addition, Nelson posted a personal-best time in the 100-yard butterfly on Friday and picked up a win in the 200-yard backstroke Saturday.
Aside from Nelson, the team had many other successful swims, including a runner-up finish for the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay team of Nelson, juniors Emmy Sehmann and Jess Unicomb and senior Marissa Berg.
Sehmann also had a fantastic swim in the 50-yard freestyle, placing fifth in 22.58, which was only 0.35 seconds off of the winning time.
Rapidly rising junior Ariana Saghafi posted a ninth-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly, breaking 53 seconds for the first time with a 52.90, which is an NCAA provisional qualifying time. Saghafi’s swim vaulted her up to fifth in Wisconsin history in the event.
For the men, a pair of freshmen etched their names into the record book, both turning in times that vaulted them onto UW’s all-time top-10 list.
M.J. Mao blasted a time of 54.51 in the 100-yard breaststroke to become the fifth-fastest in school history, while Matt Novinski swam the school’s sixth-fastest 100-yard backstroke in 47.55.
"[Mao and Novinski] were both great. Any time a freshman can get a top-10 time in program history, you know that the talent level is there," Hite told UWBadgers.com. "The future is very bright for those two, and for the men's team as a whole."
The Badgers will take a month long break from competition, during which they will take a training trip to Hawaii. After that, their next competition will be at USC on Jan. 15.