Women’s Swimming and Diving 1st, Men 5th at Fredonia State

Sophomore+Mia+Wallace+competes+in+the+200-yard+medley+relay.+The+women%E2%80%99s+swimming+and+diving+team+took+first+at+the+Blue+Devil+Invite+hosted+by+SUNY+Fredonia+last+weekend.%0A

Sophomore Mia Wallace competes in the 200-yard medley relay. The women’s swimming and diving team took first at the Blue Devil Invite hosted by SUNY Fredonia last weekend.

Emma Lehmann

The swimming and diving teams had a successful weekend at SUNY Fredonia with the women taking first and the men placing fifth.

New Head Coach Andrew Brabson was pleased with the performance by both teams.

“Overall, it was a great team effort that allowed us to finish first out of the nine teams competing,” said Brabson. Unlike most other sports, conference standings are not determined by meets specific to the  North Coast Athletic Conference. Large competitions such as this invitational provide an opportunity to experience championship-level competition without necessarily facing conference opponents.

The meet occurred over multiple days, and the team’s success was a result of both physical and mental resilience throughout the long period of competition.

There were many successful performances across a variety of events, with the men’s results highlighted by top-six finishes from sophomores Marshall Waller and Ben Shepherd in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events. Senior Jordan Attwood also found great success in the diving events.

Four women finished in the top eight of the 100-yard freestyle, and first-year Vera Hutchinson won the 100-yard fly.

“It takes more than first place [finishes] to win a meet like this. We had a lot of girls in the top eight each event this meet, and that’s where we got our points for the win,” said Hutchinson, citing the combined performance of all her teammates as a critical component of their victory.

 

Hutchinson knows there is room for improvement, especially in their relays. Relays score more points than individual events, so strong relay teams can contribute a lot to a team’s success.

 

The meet was good practice for the level of competition that will be present later in the season, as it was structured much like a championship.

 

“The environment was certainly much more intense than a typical dual meet and was a good preview of what to expect at our conference meet in February,” said Brabson.

 

Though they did not compete against conference rivals, the team’s early success shows promise for the rest of the season. The team has four more meets until the NCAC championships. This invitational is unique in that there are multiple days of competition, unlike the meets leading up to the championship in February.

The team returns on Dec. 31 to prepare for their Jan. 11 meet at Allegheny College. They plan to train as much as they can in order to stay in top shape over winter break.

“Taking time off at this point in the season can be very detrimental to performances at NCACs. Many team members will train with their club or high school teams and others will train on their own,” said Brabson. The NCAC championships are in early February, so late December is a crucial period of training that is unfortunately broken up by the holiday season. The team hopes to use this period productively.

The athletes are committed to improving their team finish in the conference last year, which will serve as motivation to train during this break in competition. The women and men placed seventh and eighth respectively.

“We definitely expect to greatly improve our place this year for both teams,” said senior captain Katie Dunn. The NCAC is unusually tough for women — both Kenyon College and Denison University have nationally-ranked programs. Denison narrowly defeated Kenyon at the 2013 women’s championships.

“NCAC is a tough conference, but I think we can get a lot of girls into finals, which is what we’ll need to do if we want to place well,” said Hutchinson.

This year, the women hope to place fourth. Coach Brabson also hopes to see the athletes improve on their times and potentially walk away with several lifetime-best performances.