The Lions’ swimming and diving teams’ members captured their fifth consecutive men’s title as well as their fourth straight women’s title at this year’s Metropolitan Conference Championships at Rutgers University last weekend.
The men’s side pulled off a lopsided victory in the three-day championship. They had a commanding lead over the 18-team competition after the first day, without even capturing any first place finishes. The second day was much different, as they racked up 600 points towards the team’s total.
Senior Tom Medvecky broke the first place drought by winning the 100-yard butterfly in 50.12 seconds, a National Collegiate Athletic Association provisional time. Sophomore Adam Schneider and freshman Stephen Gibson completed a sweep of the event, taking second and third place.
In relay action, seniors Peter Goldsmith, Shawn Kircher, Medvecky and junior Ryan Clark won the 800-yard freestyle relay in 6:49.48. Taking second in the 200-yard medley relay were seniors Joe Tseng, Kircher, Schneider and freshman Michael Oliva. Their time of 1:33.20 could qualify them for the NCAA Championships next month.
The College went into the final day of competition almost 400 points clear. Sophomore Mike Caputo began the day with a second place finish in the 1650-yard freestyle in 16:08.36.
Junior diver TJ Burns continued his successful diving season with a third place finish in the three-meter competition, scoring a personal record high of 525.05 points in preliminary and scoring 487 points in the final. Rounding out the day was a fitting first place finish in the 400-free relay. Kircher, Schneider, Clark and Gibson finished in 3:03.47. The Lions finished with 1496 total points, almost 500 more than second place U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, who finished with an even 1000 points.
“Our class entered as freshmen hoping to represent something bigger than ourselves,” Goldsmith said. “That attitude was brought upon us by a great coaching staff and by great upperclassmen leadership. We can confidently say that we have tried our hardest to instill that upon the incoming freshmen class and the sophomore and junior classes to continue to represent the tradition that NJSWIM stands for. That is simply pride and passion, which extends beyond swimming fast. It is about being being the best teammate and contributor to something that is bigger than yourself.”
The women’s team also held onto their lead during the weekend championship, breaking numerous records along the way. Junior Laura Pierce broke the school and MET record in the 50-free, posting an NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 23.45 seconds. Six hours later she would do even better, winning the race in 23.38.
Senior Margaret Molloy and sophomore Jenny Zavoda went one-two in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing in 5:01 and 5:03.74, respectively.
The Lions truly shined in the diving and relays during the opening day. Sophomore Danica Roskos and freshman Sabrina Lucchesi placed first and second in the three-meter diving event. Roskos’ preliminary score of 572.85 was not only a MET record but a school record as well.
Freshman Ashley Conroy, sophomore Kayleigh Shangle, Pierce and Molloy bested the 400-medley relay by more than four seconds, completing the race in 3:50.50. Shangle competed in the 200-free relay alongside Hofer, senior Danielle Dilts and sophomore Caroline Kelly. While they missed the school record by .04 seconds, their time of 1:35.01 was good enough to win the event and set a MET record.
On day two, Shangle, senior Katie Morgan and junior Kelsey Herchenrider swept the top three spots of the 100-yard breaststroke.
Pierce continued a strong performance with an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.56, another MET record. Conroy earned her first MET championship win in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 58.75. She would later race with Shangle, Pierce and Hofer to win the 200-yard medley relay in 1:45.99.
The women’s side, like the men’s team, went into the final day 400 points clear of first. Pierce broke a MET and school record in the 100-yard freestyle in 50.93. Molloy and Zavoda once again went one-two in the 1650-yard freestyle. Roskos and Lucchesi returned to break records in the one-meter event. Roskos set the MET and school record with a preliminary score of 526.85 before going on to win the event. At the end of the day, Shangle, Molloy, Pierce and Hofer posted the final win in the 400-free relay, winning in 3:29.17. The women finished with a score of 1585.5 points.
Pierce was named the 2011 MET swimmer of the meet and Roskos was named MET diver of the meet. Head coaches Jennifer Harnett and Brian Bishop were named MET coach of the year for both teams while Candace Gottlieb was named MET diving coach of the year.
“METS, since I have been here, has been a meet where we were faced with great competition,” Goldsmith said. “The reason we have won the last few years is due to our commitment to training and out-working other teams. Come conference championships, we show that we have not one or two fast swimmers, but 25-30 fast swimmers who are all concentrated on one thing, winning. No other team can compete with our drive and determination.”