Pulling into the final lap of the men’s 1,000-yard freestyle event, sophomore George Savulich held a minute lead over charging swimmers from New York University (NYU) and the United States Merchant Marine Academy-King’s Point (USMMA). Savulich set the pace early and had led throughout the grueling race, but his lead was rapidly slipping away.
Savulich, aided by the Lions that raucously cheered him on, would not quit, and he ended the race in first, setting the College men’s swim team on the path toward a big win.
This event and impressive wins in the 400-medley and the 500-freestyle, among others, brought the Lions to a 62-42 victory over NYU and a 70-28 win over USMMA on Saturday. The win pushed the team’s record to 6-4.
When asked to explain how he held his tiny lead over two older, more experienced swimmers, NYU senior Matt Cull and junior Kyle Anderson, Savulich could only say that he “wanted it more.”
“George had a great meet,” head coach Brian Bishop said.
Earlier in the week, the Lions traveled to Rowan University for a showdown with the rival Profs. The men’s team won convincingly, 130.5-106.5.
“We had two big meets, and the guys really stepped up,” Bishop said. “This came off of tough losses to Johns Hopkins University, which is ranked second, and West Chester, sixth in Division III.”
The Rowan meet may have turned the Lions’ season around, getting them back on track heading into the Division III Championship meets in March.
The recent men’s team wins have come without a diving team, putting the Lions down at the start of every race. However, Bishop downplayed this, saying that the team pulled through despite the lack of a diving element. “We could go find a diver, but I would rather have a well-rounded swimmer for the NCAA Tournament,” he said.
Meanwhile, the College’s women’s swim team came up short on Saturday, losing to NYU 66-47. The NYU swimmers were too much for the Lions, putting their season record at 1-7.
Head coach Jennifer Harnett still found much to praise about her team. “(They) did a great job,” she said. “Very aggressive from the beginning.”
The women’s team took a tough loss at Rowan, falling 126-113. Harnett and the team has had a tough season. She liked how the team swam against NYU, saying the girls swam well but that NYU was a little better. She also said that the Lions are “in good shape going into the conference meets.”
The Saturday afternoon meet sported a larger than usual crowd, as the stands at Packer Hall were filled almost to capacity. The spectators were treated to an exciting day filled with close races and energetic team celebrations, especially by the close-knit Lions. Metallica blared over the speakers before the game, enlivening both the crowd and the swimmers.
The men’s and women’s swimming teams will both be in action Saturday at home against William Paterson University at 2 p.m.