Daher, Smachlo get Bobcats off to rocking start at NCAA's

Sara Daher finished sixth in the 200-yard individual medley at the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships on March 19, 2014, winning All-America honors in her first NCAA event. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bates first-year students Sara Daher and Julia Smachlo both earned All-America honors in their first events of the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships on Wednesday, with Daher placing sixth in the 200-yard individual medley and Smachlo taking 15th place in the 500-yard freestyle.

The Bates pair's NCAA debuts put the Bobcat women's team in 12th place among 28 teams that have scored thus far in the four-day meet, with 15 points.

Daher (Marblehead, Mass.) swam the sixth-fastest time in Wednesay morning's preliminary heats for the 200 IM, with a time of 2:04.10, putting the first-year phenom in the championship final with seven others. Daher completed the event final in 2:04.31, sixth fastest in the race and 0.16 seconds behind fifth-place finisher Michelle Howell of Denison. Daher, who set Bates' team record in the event, 2:03.71, at the NESCAC Championship, was the second-fastest first-year swimmer in the event. She became Bates' first swimming All-America since Katelyn Drake in 2009, and won the highest placing for a Bates swimmer at nationals since Vanessa Williamson in 2005.

Bates sophomore Lindsey Prelgovisk (Oakland, Maine) impressively swam the 22nd-fastest time in the prelims of the 200 IM, 11 places higher than her original seeding, at 2:07.00, in her first taste of NCAA Championship competition.

Smachlo (Rexford, N.Y.) became the first Bates woman to break the five-minute barrier in the 500 free, breaking her own team record of 5:01.74 in Wednesday morning's prelims with a time of 4:59.90. Smachlo's effort earned her a spot in the consolation final, where she earned 15th place overall with a time of 5:02.14.

Bates junior Matthew Gagne (Winnetka, Ill.), the first Bates male to compete at NCAAs since diver Erik Baker in 2004, broke his own program record in the 200 IM Wednesday morning, with a preliminary heat time of 1:55.08, good for 54th place among 63 competitors. Gagne's former team standard of 1:55.19 was set at the 2012 NESCAC Championships.