Swimming/Diving

Herrera Highlights Strong Day 1 for Canes

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Highlighted by a gold medal performance from sophomore diver Briadam Herrera, the University of Miami swimming & diving team delivered a dominant first day at the 2016 ACC Swimming & Diving Championships.

Herrera, a two-time ACC gold medalist during his first trip to the ACC Championships in 2015, added another line to his impressive young resume Wednesday night. One of the top finishers in prelims with a score of 405.30, Herrera posted a final round score of 440.00 to capture the third ACC gold of his budding career and defend his 3-meter title.

“I’m very proud of Briadam for winning the 3-meter for the second straight year,” assistant diving coach Dario di Fazio said. “We are going for a repeat on the 1-meter tomorrow, and I know he will be ready.”

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Thumbnail Photo is Courtesy of Miami Athletics

Herrera’s night capped a strong opening day for the Hurricanes, who finished in first place in the women’s team rankings with a score of 155 points.

Miami’s 800 free relay entry, comprised of freshman Ianire Casarin, sophomores Ksenia Yuskova and Julie Suarez and junior Angela Algee, ended the night by breaking the school record by over five seconds in a time of 7:11.76.

“Being in first place plays, that says a lot. It was definitely a great start,” head swimming coach Andy Kershaw said. “I knew the 800 free relay was one that we could break, but to beat it by five seconds was a good way to do it.”

Kershaw said the 800 free relay has been one of the focal points for the season, and said he thought his team could have swam even faster.

“It’s great to see their hard work paying off – and with Ianire swimming the leadoff in only her second college meet,” Kershaw said. “But even that wasn’t as good as they can be. The first swim is always a little tense. I told them all afterwards, if they loosen up a little more, they can swim even faster. But I’m very proud of their effort tonight.”

Algee had only swam the 200 free once this season – at the Ohio State Invitational – but served as the anchor Wednesday.

“That’s not her event. But I know what she’s capable of. I see what she does in training, and it’s just a testament to where she’s come and where she has established herself daily as a swimmer in training.”

Kershaw said the first three swimmers deserve credit for putting Algee in a position to cap off a record-breaking performance.

“Some of the other teams got off to a fast start or faded, but there was a point in our lane where we were considerably behind. Ianire, Ksenia and Julie kept plugging away to put Angela about a body length behind, and that was perfect. She has the killer instinct, and she uses it.”

Ksenia and Suarez swam the middle legs of the relay and delivered key performances.

“They put up great times. Ksenia looked really strong – there’s a couple of things we need to fix, and she knows it and is ready to get back at it,” Kershaw said. “Julie hurt her knee last week, but for her to battle, I’m sure there was a little unknown for her. For her to step up tonight shows how tough she is.”

Not to be outdone, Miami divers sophomore Wally Layland (second) and freshman Cici Chaney (third) both made their first career trips to the podiums in the 1-meter. Layland captured silver and finished with a score of 318.65, while Chaney was not far behind with a bronze-winning score of 318.05.

Senior Kara McCormack just missed out on qualifying by 0.45 points – she finished prelims with a score of 292.70.

“I don’t think some of the other teams were counting Wally or Cici to be in the top three, because there were a few good seniors in the mix,” di Fazio said. “But they took the challenge and ran with it. This is their personal best in the 1-meter, and I’m very proud of them. All of our divers did a great job tonight.”

The Hurricanes will return to the Greensboro Aquatic Center Thursday for the second day of action from the ACC Swimming & Diving Championships.

“Tonight was so big, because it sets the tone. We set a great tone. They’re going to carry that into tomorrow, which is good,” Kershaw said. “Where we’re positioned, we have to go to battle tomorrow. They know that. We have to battle, scrape and claw. I think they’re comfortable with that, and have shown they’re willing to do that throughout the year.”

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