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York Suburban grad Erin Merkle, a freshman on the Villanova University women's swim team became a Big East Conference champion on Thursday when she won the 500 freestyle at the league meet.

Merkle swam a 4:51.45 to finish a mere .27 of a second ahead of Wildcats teammate Emily Mayo. Merkle swam .25 faster during the final lap to hold off Mayo in the incredibly close distance race.

Villanova captured the top four spots in the event with Mary Snyder and Colleen Lord taking third and fourth respectively. Teammate Megan Conrad placed eighth.

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