LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Sophomore Emma Lowther finished ahead of more than 40 swimmers to take first place in the 500 freestyle in 4 minutes, 56.55 seconds to lead NAU on the first day of the UNLV Winter Invitational. Senior Kristin Jones finished third in the 500 free and sophomore Rachel Palmer took fourth in the 200 IM for the Lumberjacks on the first of three days of competition in Las Vegas.
"Almost everybody swam season bests today, and that's the biggest thing we're looking for," said NAU head coach Andy Johns. "Everybody got to swim tonight and it was nice to have four relay teams. There is still a lot of swimming to go, but this was a good first day and hopefully we'll continue to get better."
Lowther's winning time in the 500 free was more than eight seconds better than her previous team season best time, while Jones also had a season best finish to take third. Palmer finished at 2:08.41 to take fourth in the 200 IM, finishing just ahead of teammate Fi Connell who touched at 2:08.90. In the only other individual swim of the day, senior Chalene Dirks-Ryan led NAU with a sixth place finish in the 50 free after a 24.30 finish in the preliminary round. Connell advanced to the B final in the 50 free and posted a time of 24.23 in the final.
In the first team event, the 200 free relay, the NAU team of Dirks-Ryan, Connell, Palmer and junior Kelsey Loy finished sixth with a team season-best time of 1:37.37. Connell recorded a 24.08 split in the race, the fastest 50 free time for NAU this season. The day concluded with the 400 medley relay, with the NAU squad of Connell, sophomore Jordan Burnes, Palmer and Dirks-Ryan placing third in 3:53.27.
The NAU divers were also in action Saturday but those results were not immediately made available. The meet continues on Sunday, with preliminary swims commencing at 9 a.m. in Las Vegas.