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Multiple records fall at Missouri swim team's inaugural Invitational

Sunday, December 7, 2008 | 10:08 p.m. CST; updated 9:30 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 10, 2008

COLUMBIA — The competition wasn't the only thing falling as the Missouri men's and women's swimming and diving teams both took home victories in the Mizzou Invitational, which finished up Sunday.

The Tigers' men's and women's teams combined to break seven school records in the first installment of the event, held at the Mizzou Aquatic Center.

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Senior Lori Halvorson was the star of the weekend, breaking four school records for the MU women, who cruised to a comfortable 1279-927 victory over seven other schools, including second-place finisher Iowa .

"To break through like this is in the middle of the season, and not even in the end, is a real huge feat for me," Halvorson said. "So I'm really excited with how I swam."

She had plenty to be excited about. Halvorson spread her record-breaking performances over all three days of the invite. The first to fall was Halvorson's old mark in the 200-yard individual medley. She followed that performance with a 200-yard freestyle time of 1 minute, 47.58 seconds Saturday,which gave Halvorson sole possession of a record she had previously shared with junior Colleen Gordon.

After three years of success, Halvorson said the ability to continue to improve has been rewarding.

"It's the feeling that everything's come together," Halvorson said. "All the hard the work, all the belief in yourself, all your teammates believe in you, all your coaches. When you look up there it's just like everything kind of clicked, and this big smile runs across your face."

Sunday featured more freestyle dominance when Halvorson swam a 50.17 in the 100-yard freestyle. Her role in the women's 400-yard freestyle relay also resulted in an MU all-time best.

"She just comes every day, and she never has a bad day," Missouri coach Brian Hoffer said of Halvorson. "Her motivation, and desire, and passion and ability are pretty unbelievable. I haven't had many athletes like her in the history of my coaching career."

Hoffer's men's team also added a few firsts. Sophomore Cameron Sellers broke his own school record in the 200-yard freestyle and also contributed to an all-time school best in the 400-yard freestyle relay. He swam that race with Jordan Hawley, Bryan Difford and Gilad Kaufman in 2:59.38.

"My little brother is actually coming here, so it's going to be good to see him try to break my records," Sellers said. "But it's good to know that I'm in the books for now."

The championship scoring format at the invite was the first of its kind hosted by the Tigers. And while Hoffer said that he didn't expect the record-breaking times that came in the pool, the setup and environment of the meet were far more calculated.

The large-scale invite and championship scoring were put together in preparation for MU's role as host for February's Big 12 championships. The actual arrangement of the pool area was comparable to what the Tigers will see in that meet later in the season.

The men's team, ranked No. 21 coming into the weekend, trailed the unranked Hawkeyes after Friday's events and led by only two points when the meet resumed for its final day on Sunday. The Tigers eventually fought their way to a 921-880.5 victory, and Hoffer said the experience was one the Tigers needed as the tough competition of high-stakes championship meets loom.

"I think they liked it," Hoffer said. "I think they liked having a team that was close. They liked the competition. I think it kept them focused. They could kind of key in on the Iowa guys, and I think they did it."

"You realize that when your back is up against the wall and it's a close meet that you have that experience behind you, and you can pull it out when it counts," sophomore Jordan Hawley said. "I really think it gave us kind of a motivational boost. To know when it's close that we can pull together, and we can fight."


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