The College’s swimming and diving team increased its winning record to 2-0 with a thrilling win against Montclair State University in the home opener on Friday, Oct. 24. The Packer Hall swimming pool was surrounded by family and friends who came to support and watch every dominating performance by both the men’s and women’s teams.
The men’s team came out strong by winning its first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Senior Aleksander Burzynski, junior James Shangle, junior Joseph Dunn and senior Brian Perez swam to a winning time of 1:35.57.
The men went one, two and three with sophomore Ryan Gajdzdisz touching the wall at a time of 10:08.5. Freshman Logan Barnes and sophomore Jason Ivins had equally impressive times of 10:18.06 and 10:22.91, respectively. The swimmers all began very close, but by the third lap, some of the men started breaking away from the pack, and in the end, the Lions came out on top.
The men’s team was able to sweep four more events — men’s 200-yard freestyle, men’s 100-yard backstroke, men’s 100-yard breaststroke and men’s 50-yard freestyle. In the men’s exhilarating 50-yard freestyle, Dunn put up a jaw-dropping time of 21.01 — a time that almost beat the current record set at 20.22 by assistant coach Adam Schneider.
As the swimmers took to the pool to race, the dynamic team relationship among the men was clear. During the men’s 200-yard freestyle, the men’s teammates were all on their feet, some on the bleachers, to watch their teammates glide effortlessly through the water and take the win.
The women’s team also wielded that close dynamic. During the women’s 100-yard backstroke, teammates could be heard yelling, “go, go, go” as sophomore Brenna Strollo finished with a winning time of 1:00.83 — beating her previous time of 1:02.06 from their last meet. The women, like the men, swept the top spots. Freshman Katie Kilfeather and freshman Jill Galindo had times of 1:03.53 and 1:04.47, respectively.
Strollo, once again, had another successful meet, coming in first in three out of four of her events — the women’s 200-yard IM at 2:16.45 and the women’s 200-yard medley relay along with teammates Brennah Ross, Marta Lawler and Lauren Rothstein.
“All my mental preparation comes from practice,” Strollo said about her preparation for meets. “No thinking goes on during a meet.”
The swimmers all looked focused before stepping onto the platform. Some could be seen stretching and preparing their muscles for the intense work about to be put in. Others chose to drown out the noise of the meet with their headphones.
Whatever they chose to do, it seemed to work. Like the men, the women’s team had many exciting wins and swam with ease.
In the women’s 1,000-yard freestyle, MSU was dominating the pool with a strong start. Toward the end of the long event, the women’s team started catching up. It was a close win, but freshman Ali Huber was able to take the top spot — with a time of 11:40.55 — only five seconds before MSU’s second-place swimmer.
The freshmen swimmers came to compete and are blending right in with the rest of the team, as well.
“The team has been amazing,” freshman Cassidy Bergeron said. “I just love it!”
Bergeron explained that although it has been tough adjusting to both college and the team, her teammates are all there to be supportive.
Coach Jennifer Hartnett spoke about how the new swimmers came in with a great attitude, and that they were all on board with the goals of the season.
“I’m so impressed with how they stepped up already,” Hartnett said, explaining that most freshmen take about a semester to get used to the team, but this group started fitting in early in the semester.
With this and last week’s win, Hartnett is ready to see what the rest of the season has to offer and has a lot of faith in her strong team.
“I’m really excited about where we’re at right now,” Hartnett said. “I’m excited to see how we do as the year continues.”