Sometimes the most important thing in sports isn’t bringing home the hardware, feeling like part of a team in a way that no other activity can quite make you feel, or even being a part of something that’s greater than yourself.
Sure, all of those things are vital, but sometimes there’s just something that is, for moments, just a little more important. It was that rare and powerful motivation which the swimming teams of the College set their sights on this past Wednesday, Oct. 10 in an intra-squad meet which served as something of a warm-up for the season to come.
“This is Blue vs. Gold,” men’s head coach Brian Bishop said. “For bragging rights!”
In a light-hearted yet competitive meet, both the women’s and men’s squads prepared for their seasons by competing against one another in various races, both individual and relay. While no school records were set in the meet and none of the swimmers had the appearance of life-or-death competitiveness they would in an actual meet, they still gave great efforts in order to claim those vaunted bragging rights.
Women’s head coach Jennifer Harnett, defending New Jersey Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, summed up the day’s events rather succinctly before the races began.
“This is just a fun meet, to really help us see where we are before the season starts,” she said.
For the women’s squad, expectations are certainly high, as they have been selected in a preseason coaches’ poll as the favorites to win their fifth consecutive NJAC championship. Led by their four co-captains, seniors Kristyn Wikoff, Elena Ferranti, Kayleigh Shangle and Sam Parlow — the Lions were selected by all coaches polled to finish first yet again. They are also looking to build on last season’s seventh place finish overall at the national championships.
The men’s squad has almost identical aspirations, having been selected by a coaches’ poll to also win the NJAC championship for the fifth consecutive season. Led by their trio of co-captain seniors Adam Schneider, Mike Caputo and Andrew Smith, the men are looking to build on their strong 12th place overall finish at nationals last season.
But Wednesday’s meet wasn’t really about meeting the expectations of the season. Rather, it was about the athletes showing what they could do and laying claim to the team’s bragging rights for the season, with maybe just a hint of demonstrating how much of a force they could be.
“(This meet is) a great early season test,” Bishop said, who kept the meet light-hearted with running commentary of the races.
The swimmers themselves are looking forward to what lies ahead.
“We’re really excited about this season,” Ferranti said.
Her fellow co-captain Wikoff agreed, adding, “(And we’re) excited for the new freshmen to show what they can do.”
Freshmen were put to the test at the meet’s start, where they sang “The National Anthem” to the amusement of their elder athletes — and were impressive in doing so.
In the end, the Blue squads for both the men and the women prevailed (with the Blue men winning 64-58 and the women 73-47), claiming their valuable prize and starting a new season with what promises to be a very bright outlook.
Let the bragging begin.