Women’s Varsity swim relay teams break several SMAC records, creating a new legacy within the conference

Maggie Farrell
Winning relay team members, junior Maggie Farrell, junior Sydney Sonday, sophomore Megan Gibson, and junior Farah Ghazal celebrate after breaking the 200m freestyle relay conference record.

Over the weekend, ten teams from neighboring schools came to compete at the natatorium for the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC) swimming and diving championships. Portage Central swimmers and divers placed second overall, achieving numerous new pool and conference records along with their undefeated regular season making for a successful weekend in the pool.

PC swimmer and divers were second to Bridgman Co-Op by less than 30 points. However, the mustangs captured five first place finishes, three of which resulted in new SMAC records.

The 200 freestyle relay team of junior Sydney Sonday, sophomore Megan Gibson, junior Farah Ghazal, and junior Maggie Farrell broke the previous record of 1:40.10 set back in 2014 by Bridgman with a 1:39.42. Gibson describes the experience with her teammates as a “dream come true.”

“When I looked up at our time and saw that we had broken the record, I could not stop smiling!” Gibson said. “I was so proud of our relay and I knew we could do it. It was by far my highlight of the meet!”

Sonday describes her feeling when they broke the record as “ecstatic.” She described the pride each team member felt for one other and how special the moment was with her teammates.

“Everything we worked for had paid off in that moment,” Sonday said. “When we all finished, we hugged and celebrated our accomplishment. It was crazy!”

Ghazal also shared her feelings on beating the record as extremely rewarding. She also stated how the competition at this year’s SMAC was harder than she had ever seen before.

“When we first broke the record, I was shocked,” Ghazal explained. “I have always dreamed of seeing my name on the record board and being able to break both records with my teammates was so rewarding. I spend so much time training in the pool, and to see all of our hard work pay off was incredible.”

The relay team of Farrell, Ghazal, senior Audrey Vermeulen, and senior Julia Semler was able to break Bridgman’s 400 freestyle relay record with a time of 3:35.58. This previous SMAC record was also set back in 2014.

“When we got the records, I was so excited,” Semler said. “Not only was I able to leave a mark for my last year, but also being able to knock out the record from our biggest competitors felt really good!”

Vermeulen also shared in the excitement describing her emotions in the moment as pure joy. She said that her teammates in the relay helped push her to do her very best.

“When I found out we broke the SMAC conference record, I was beyond happy,” Vermeulen said. “We wanted to beat the record and once we did, we couldn’t believe it!”

Farrell also set the 500 freestyle SMAC record with a winning time of 5:06.90. The prior record had been set back in 1998 by Portage Northern’s C. Bradford with a 5:07.73.

The divers face off at MHSAA regionals on Thursday Nov. 8 at Grand Rapids Northview and the swimmers are preparing for the MHSAA State Finals, at Oakland University on Nov. 16.

“Although we got second, I am so proud of my teammates who fought until the end of the meet. We all did so well and I am so honored to be a part of this team that constantly amazes me,” Ghazal said. “None of this would have been possible without our coaches, I cannot wait to see what we do at the state meet in two weeks!”