Swimming performs at the top of its game

This past weekend was definitely memorable for the men’s and women’s swimming squads as they competed at the three-day TCNJ Invitational. Not only did both teams win, but school records were broken as several individuals beat their personal best times.

“It is a mid-year meet so we did have a couple days to rest,” Jennifer Harnett (women’s head coach) said. “We were expecting our in-season best times, but not necessarily our life-best times. So as far as that goes, my expectations have been far exceeded.”

The swimmers dive in on a mission. (Chandler Hart-McGonigle / Staff Photographer)

This was shown as the women finished with a team total of 985.5 points, beating the second place squad from Long Island University Post by 53. The leaders for the College were seniors Kayleigh Shangle and Jenny Zavoda, junior Ashley Conroy and sophomores Brennah Ross and Nicole Muha.

Conroy started off strong on the first day, breaking her own school record in the 100-yard backstroke. Less than 24 hours later, she broke that record once again with the time of 56.91. Zavoda also raced well on Friday, winning the 500-yard freestyle event in 5:11.97. However, she was not yet finished and later that weekend won the 200-yard freestyle event with a time of 1:56.29.

As for the 100-yard breastroke, Shangle took first place with a finish of 1:04.99. Behind her in third place was Muha, who finished with a personal best of 1:06.50. Ross also had a lifetime best in the 400-yard IM, finishing second with a time of 4:35.43. These three times were all good enough to qualify for NCAAs in March.

As for the men’s team, they too dominated the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the University of Bridgeport.  The Lions never trailed and had a final score of 1,319 points.  Behind them in second place were the Purple Knights with a total of 857 points.

Head Men’s Coach Brian Bishop was pleased overall with his team’s performance. By the beginning of the second day, the Lions knew they were in control.

“We’ve done pretty well so far,” Bishop said.  “Coming in we just wanted to (cut our times down to qualify for NCAAs),” which is exactly what they did.

Several of the men finished with impressive times. Senior Mike Caputo first got the ball rolling, winning the 500-yard free with a time of 4:35.48 and the 1650-yard free with a finish of 16:03.35.

“As a team, the majority of our guys got their best times,” Caputo said. “For me, I also wanted to get some best times for the NCAA cuts.”

As for the 800-yard freestyle relay team, Caputo, senior Evan Paulan, junior Stephan Tarnowski and sophomore Brian Perez all joined up to place first in the event with a time of 6:55.81. In the 200-yard butterfly event, sophomores Matthew VanBiervliet and Dennis Hall-App finished well in second and third place, respectively.

The men’s squad has much to look forward to as they head to Southern Connecticut University next Saturday, Dec.8. The women’s squad will also be joining them there at 2 p.m. as both look to improve upon this weekend’s impressive performance.