Vanderbilt Edges Florida Gulf Coast with Win on Final Relay

Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

October 16, 2021
FGCU Aquatics Center, Fort Myers, Florida
Short Course Yards (25 yards)
Full Results
Team Scores:
Vanderbilt (W) 151 def. FGCU (W) 143

The FGCU Eagles took Vanderbilt down to the wire, but the Commodores finished 1-3 in the final relay to seal up an 8-point margin on Saturday on the road in Fort Myers.

Neither team wore technical racing suits for the meet.

It was the 2nd matchup in 3 seasons between Vanderbilt of the SEC and FGCU, one of the top mid-major programs in the country over the last decade. In 2019, Vanderbilt won 172-121 at home, but this year’s meet was much closer.

Petra Halmai, the Eagles’ top swimmer, won the last individual event of the meet, the 400 IM, in 4:29.69. That gave FGCU a 1 point lead heading into the closing 200 free relay.

FGCU led at the halfway mark, but a 23.33 third leg from Tonner Debeer of Vanderbilt, the fastest split of the field, pulled the Commodores into the lead. She handed to Chantal Jordan, who anchored in 23.39, and Vanderbilt’s back-end eventually pulled away to win 1:34.15-1:34.90.

That win secured the meet, with 2 more points for a third place finish added on for good measure.

The aforementioned 400 IM winner Halmai grabbed three individual wins in the meet. She also topped the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.42, more than a second-and-a-half clear of the field, and the 200 breast in 2:17.67, almost four seconds clear of the field. She has earned All-America honors in the 200 breaststroke in each of the last two seasons, finishing 11th in 2021.

Halmai raced on a mixed medley relay for her native Hungary at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Among the best individual performances for the victorious Commodores was a 1:52.89 from Eleanor Beers in the 200 free. That led the field by over two seconds, and was half-a-second better than she swam last week against Arkansas and Drury.

After spending the summer training back home with the Bainbridge Island Swim Club in Washington, she was also four-tenths faster in the 100 free (52.51) than she was at a dual meet a year ago today, which was the team’s opener (52.69). She was 3rd in that event, behind Florida Gulf Coast’s Brittney Pike.

Other Notable Results:

On either side of Beers’ win in the 200 free were wins from Mercedes Traba in the 1000 free (10:31.68) and  from Debeer in the 100 back (57.02). That gave Vanderbilt a four-straight win streak to open the meet before FGCU fought back by winning 5 of the next 6 events.
Traba also won the 200 free, finishing in 5:05.93, while Debeer also won the 100 fly in 55.45.
Florida Gulf Coast swam CCSA conference-leading times in several events, including the 200 medley relay (1:43.89). Wiktoria Czarnecka swam the conference’s best times in both the 50 free (23.43) and 100 fly (55.98) – the latter of which is a second-and-a-half better than anyone else in the conference.

Vanderbilt is now 2-1 on the season in dual meets. They’ll race again in two weeks against Illinois. Florida Gulf Coast is 0-1 in dual meets, though they did win the North Florida Invitational in their season-opener. They race again on Friday, Oct. 22 against Miami.

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