Sarah Koopmans of Kamloops helped the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels earn their second NCAA Division One Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships title in program history last week in Sin City.
The Kamloops Classic Swimming product, a freshman at UNLV, had her best individual result on Friday, winning the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 53.58 seconds.
"I knew it was really, really close," Koopmans told KTW. "I could see her next to me. She was from Reno [University of Nevada, Reno]. They’re our biggest rivals. I wanted to get first because it’s a nice accomplishment, but I mostly wanted to do it for my team.
"It was so nice and special because I looked to my left and my whole team was just screaming and everyone was so happy."
Koopmans’ time was the fifth-fastest in the women’s 100 fly in program history and she shaved more than one second off of her personal best.
UNLV racked up 1,349 team points to win the championship, waiting until the last second on Saturday to edge UNR by nine points.
In the meet's final race, UNLV topped UNR by one tenth of a second in the 400-yard free relay, with Julia Filippova, Lauren Smith, Malia Fernandez and Kristina Schneider pacing the Rebels to their first Mountain West banner in 16 years.
Trailing the UNR Wolf Pack by .50 seconds on the final exchange, junior Schneider made a late push in the last 100 yards to post a lightning-quick split of 48.74 seconds to clinch the title.
"That moment was so honestly breathtaking, so rewarding because our whole team has worked so hard all year, made so many sacrifices, like signing contracts saying we won’t see anyone outside of our bubble, not even family members," Koopmans said.
"It was down to the wire with UNR, our biggest rivals. We don’t love them. Kristina went so fast. As soon as she touched, everyone was just screaming. It was pure joy.
"I cried so many times. I watched the video the next day and I cried again."
Koopmans had a COVID-19 scare of her own earlier in the season, when a roommate tested positive.
The Kamloops swimmer did not contract the virus, but was forced to miss one of the season's most important meets while quarantining.
Koopmans helped UNLV to a silver medal finish on Wednesday in the 200-yard medley relay, along with teammates Kate Afanasyeva, Tosia Iwanowska and Caitlyn Schreiber.
The Rebels placed third in the 400-yard medley relay on Thursday, with Afanasyeva, Koopmans, Schneider and Calysta Bartlett pushing UNLV onto the podium.