The College of Staten Island men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs impressed at every turn this weekend, finalizing their team postseason competition with a strong showing at the Metropolitan Swimming & Diving Championships held at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.  The meet, which sees competition between all metropolitan area team spanning all NCAA divisions saw CSI place 8th on the men’s side, their highest ranking ever, while the women placed 14th overall.
The 40-event, three-day meet started on Friday and ended on Sunday.  Preliminary rounds were held in the morning with Final heats drawn in the evening.  CSI had a total of 66 entries in both men’s and women’s competition.
On the men’s side of the ledger, CSI got off to a nice start on Friday.  In the morning preliminaries, CSI qualified for final heats in six of their eight entries.  To start things off, CSI’s Danila Novikov, Pavel Buyanov, Joe Lee, and Andrey Tarasov raced to a 1:28.77 finish in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay, placing them 10th overall and qualifying them for the final round in the evening in the B-division.  There, they finished 10th overall again with a final race time of 1:29.29, less than a second ahead of both New Jersey Institute of Technology and Baruch College.
In individual competition, Nikolay Shevchenko, Novikov, Tarasov, and Buyanov all qualified for the finals in the 200-yard Individual Medley, setting up for a spirited evening race.  In the A-Final heat, Novikov was the one to shine, pulling in a time of 1:52.84, making the NCAA B-cut time in the process, placing second overall and improving his own personal best mark by almost one full second.  Placing behind him in fifth place was Tarasov, who flew in at 1:55.34, also shattering his own personal best time.  In the B-Final heat, Shevchenko and Buyanov were neck and neck, with Shevchenko taking 11th overall with a time of 1:57.88 and Buyanov just a touch behind at 1:58.09.
In the 400-yard Freesytle Relay, CSI finished fourth overall after scoring fifth in preliminaries, with a time of 3:32.14 in the A-Final heat featuring Tarasov, Buyanov, Shevchenko, and Novikov.  Joe Lee and Paul O’Hara were participants in the 50-yard Freestyle as well in the evening, placing 36th, and 74th, respectively.  Rounding out competition on Friday, CSI’s Andy Gill scored a total of 248.55 points on the 1-meter board, placing 10th overall at preliminaries.
On Saturday, the action continued for CSI.  In the 200-yard Medley Relay CSI placed 8th in the preliminary round with Shevchenko, Novikov, Buyanov, and Lee racing in that order.  They followed up the effort by placing fifth overall during the final heat with a time of 1:36.82, beating their own personal best time by almost three full seconds.  Novikov followed up the effort in the very next event, the 400-yard Individual Medley.  he placed third in the field at preliminaries, and then followed by besting his personal-best time by an unbelievable eight and a half seconds, racing the event in a time of 4:02.82, winning the gold medal, CSI’s first of the meet.
Nikolay Shevchenko followed that showing up with a 9th place faring in the 100-yard Butterfly event qualifying him for the final heat, where he also improved, placing seventh overall with a time of 52.40, his best of the season.  Zhihao Zhang also participated in the preliminary for the event.  Paul O’Hara and Dmitriy Lyubarskiy did the same in the 200-yard Freestyle events topping out in 56th, and 58th, respectively.
That set the stage for an intense showing in the 100-yard Breaststroke event, where Andrey Tarasov bested Pavel Buyanov by coming in first in preliminaries with a time of 58:28, beating Buyanov’s 58.62.  Buyanov got even, however, by placing second overall in the final with a time of 56.34, which was over Tarasov’s time of 58.48 which helped him finish fourth.  When play shifted to diving, Andy Gill had his turn on the three-meter boards, and placed 8th in the field in both preliminaries and the final round with a score of 224.15.
More points were earned on Sunday for the men’s unit.  In the 100-yard Freestyle event, Novikov’s time of 48.06 in preliminaries was good enough to earn a spot in the finals.  Joe Lee finished 31st in the field as well while Louis Algarin also hopped in at 58.77, good for 69th.  Novikov finished 11th overall in the Finals heat, coming in with a personal-best time of 47.92.  Then, in the heavily-contested 200-yard Breaststroke event, Buyanov secured second and Tarasov fourth in the preliminaries, setting up another great finals race.  Buyanov came in at second at Finals as well with his best time of the season at 2:04.96, while Tarasov followed with a time of 2:06.12 good for 5th in the field.
Shevchenko was next and the final CSI swimmer to qualify with a 2:00.13 time in the 200-yard Butterfly event, good for 9th in preliminaries.  When play shifted to the Finals, a time of 1:59.04 was had by Shevchenko, also 9th overall in the field.
CSI earned 8th place overall in the field at the conclusion of the meet among the 18 total schools that performed.  It also placed them higher than their fellow CUNYAC brethren (Baruch – 12th, Lehman – 18th) and NCAA Division II institutions Adelphi University (11th) and Queens College (13th).
Next up for CSI is the ECAC Open in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Five CSI swimmers will compete in this event, hoping to build on national qualifying times as they set their sights on the NCAA National Championships in mid-March.
Over on the women’s side of the ledger, CSI placed 14th among the 19 schools in attendance, and the Dolphins continued to improve on times in the pool.  CSI only qualified for one Final round in the 400-yard Medley Relay.  The team of Jessica Pifalo, Elaina Lee, Gabriella Villarruel, and Priscila Alvarez turned in a time  of 5:00.55, good for 16th overall in the field, which was their same outcome in the preliminary heat as well. 
In preliminary heats on Friday, the same foursome swam to a 2:00.30 finish in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay which was good for 18th in the field.  Later in the morning, Villarruel, originally seeded 48th in the 200-yard Individual Medley chimed in with a 36th place faring in preliminaries with a time of 2:36.28.  CSI saw three competitors in the 50-yard Freestyle event as Vasiliki Stergioula, Josetta Adams and Jessica Irizarry all performed.  Among 12 competitors in three-meter diving on Friday, April Bartlett was impressive, qualifying for finals and coming eighth overall with 329.70 points.
On Saturday, CSI just missed making finals in the 200-yard Medley Relay, coming in at a 2:15.99 for 17th overall.  Next up, in the 100-yard Butterfly competition, Lauren Overeem led CSI with a 1:23.88 finish which helped her finish 42nd overall, a few spaced ahead of teammate Natasha Caicedo, who came in at 1:38.85.  CSI’s Alvarez saw a similar fate in the 200-yard Freestyle, coming in at 2:51.43, good for 59th.  The Dolphins then saw three competitors in the 100-yard Breaststroke event with Lei (43rd), Jeanne Leung (52nd), and Stergioula (56th) all competing.  Pifalo then improved on her own time by two seconds in the 100-yard Backstroke, placing 31st overall.
A total of 25 divers were on hand for the women’s one-meter competition and again, April Bartlett shined, posting 345.95 points, good enough for 5th in the field in one of CSI’s greatest highlights of the meet.
On the final day of competition, CSI had a handful of great performances as well.  Pifalo placed 47th in qualifying for the 200-yard Backstroke, while Adams and Irizarry both participated in 100-yard Freestyle events.  In a strong showing in the 200-yard Butterfly event, Villarruel placed 29th overall with a 2:48.50 showing.  To finalize the women’s side, the team of Alvarez, Lei, Pifalo and Villarruel came in at 4:33.80 in the 400-yard Freestyle Relay, good for 18th overall.