Fresno State diver Silvia Alessio and swimmer Darina Khisiamova had a strong showing at the Chick-Fil-A Invite season opener.
In the 3-meter dive, Alessio won the three meter with a score of 284.45, and placed third in the 1-meter dive with 255.20, and Khisiamova swam to second overall in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 17:31.43 – behind Cal’s Sarah Dimeco’s time of 17:01:43.
Fresno State finished fourth as a team after hosting their first meet on Friday, Oct. 8, and Saturday, Oct. 9, at the Fresno State Aquatics Center.
Senior swimmer Khisiamova wants to utilize her last year to compete nationally. Finishing second in the 1650 freestyle, she said she was satisfied with her performance but needs room for improvement.
Khisiamova said the toll it takes physically is stressing but never mentally because she enjoys the sport.
“I would say the [1650 Freestyle] is my favorite. It hurts every time when I swim, but I am always excited for the mile because that’s my baby,” Khisiamova said. “ I’ve always loved that event… Sometimes people say you’re crazy because it is super long but I love it. I enjoy doing it.”
Khisiamova also placed 11th in the 500 freestyle and 12th in the 400 IM on Friday night.
Alessio returned from a successful season, earning All-Mountain West honors and placing in the top 10 in the Mountain West Championship in the 3-meter and 1-meter dive. She also earned academic All-MW honors and was named a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete.
In the Bulldog season opener, Fresno State competed against Cal, UCLA, San Diego State, Washington State and San José State.
Cal won the meet as a team overall with a score of 1481.5 points.
Another Bulldog diver who performed well was Yuliya Tykha as she snagged first place in the 1-meter diving event with a score of 284.50 and sixth place in the 3-meter competition scoring 232.65.
Tykha is from Zaporozhye, Ukraine and is in her fourth season at Fresno State.
Despite the veteran swimmers performing well in their first meet back, the swim and dive team is a relatively young team.
Head coach Jeanne Fleck said the team’s youth influenced their performance.
“I think that we have nine freshmen, and you can tell we have nine freshmen,” Fleck said. “So we have a lot of learning curves to go, but we need to race a little better.”
Despite the team being young, freshman like Madison Caserio finished seventh in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 18:03.03 and 18th in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:13.02.
Wiktoria Dabrowska also performed well in her first year at Fresno State, finishing 16th overall in the 100 freestyle with a time of 52.87 seconds. Coming from Warsaw, Poland, Dabrowska also was in the top 25 in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:55.14.
Italian freshman Sara Lucchini also placed 14th in the 100 butterfly with a finishing time of 56.68 seconds and finished 30th overall in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.70 seconds.
Bulldog Julia Matney is another freshman swimmer from Centennial, Colorado. Graduating from Grandview High School, she was a three-time All-American and currently holds school records for swimming.
Although she came to Fresno as a promising high school athlete, Matney said she was still nervous as a freshman facing high-competitive teams.
“It’s definitely scary, especially with this being our first meet against Cal, UCLA and San Diego State,” Matney said. “I was super excited for this meet… just having all the girls around me; they really like always support me.”
The Bulldog Swim and Dive team are close-knit and encourage everyone on the team, Matney said.
Another example of that is with Bulldog sophomore Rylee Gordillo in her first meet back after missing her last season due to an injury. She described this as her “comeback meet” and is excited to race again.
Saturday was also a special day for Gordillo and the team because she was also celebrating her birthday.
Coming from San Diego, California, Gordillo is in her second season with the Bulldogs, and she wants to perform to her best now that she is healthy.
“My goal is definitely just like staying healthy this year and hopefully making it on the conference team,” Gordillo said. “That’s like my biggest goal and being able to swim at conference.”
Canadian sophomore Emilie Hingray was second on the team behind Alessio and took third overall in the 3-meter diving competition with a score of 251.95.
The Bulldogs swim team also showed out.
Freshman Korrie Tengan was first on the team and took 22nd in the 200 IM with a time of 2:09.41, and junior Athena Clayson placed 25th in the 50 Freestyle finishing with a time of 24.40.
Clayson was also top five in the 100 Backstroke.
Senior Keren Wasserman also finished 27th overall in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.12.
In the relays, Fresno State had four different teams for each team relay event.
Friday night opened with the 200 medley relay. The best team for the Bulldogs – which included Clayson, Tengan, Lucchini and Samarah Melia – taking eighth place with a time of 1:46.31.
Fresno State also finished 10th in the 200 freestyle relay and seventh in the 800 freestyle relay.
On Saturday, Clayson, Wasserman, Lucchini and Dabrowska took 10th in the 400 medley relay. The Bulldogs also were in the top 10 in the 400 freestyle relay.
The ‘Dogs host their next meet against Nevada at the Aquatics Center on Friday, Nov. 5.