By Jessica Ganga
With any sports team, the success of the team is dependent on the chemistry between its individual members. For the College’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, the chemistry between the swimmers is evident as both teams took home wins this past weekend on Saturday, Nov. 7, against Ramapo College.
The men’s swimming and diving team defeated their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rivals, 170-87. Once again, there were strong performances in each event from every swimmer. Coach Brian Bishop cited their success to what the team takes pride in — the closeness of the swimmers.
“That’s what we’re known for,” Bishop said. “We’re known for overachieving, and you can only do that with chemistry, and that’s been the strength of our program for the last 25 years. It’s the basis for who we are.”
In the first event of the meet, the men’s 200-yard relay, the College took first and second. Throughout the event, the swimmers kept a steady lead and were able to clock in a time of 1:36.63. Seniors James Shangle, Dante Colucci and Joseph Dunn and junior Scott Vitabile were the winning quartet of the event.
Shangle came out on top in the fast-paced men’s 50-yard freestyle. He finished with an impressive time of 21.96. The College went one, two and three in the event with juniors Ryan Gajdizisz and Anthony Gurrieri clocking in times of 22.07 and 22.49, respectively.
The College took the top three spots again in the men’s 100-yard freestyle. This time, it was Dunn who swam for a time of 47.30 to take first. Gajdizsz and Shangle were right behind Dunn, taking second and third with times of 48.49 and 49.48, respectively.
After the meet, Bishop commented on the focus the men’s swimming team has for the rest of the season.
“Our focus is always on the national championships,” Bishop said. “The dual meets are just tools for us. It’s all about getting to the NCAAs and finishing top 10, top five at NCAAs, so that’s our complete focus. Everything we do from this point until then is all in preparation for that. That’s our main focus.”
The women’s swimming and diving team had an equally successful meet, beating Ramapo, 168-93.
Throughout the various events, coach Jennifer Harnett could be seen jumping, whistling and cheering for her swimmers. Afterward, Harnett explained how there were women who shined in different events, which added to the excitement of the already intense meet.
“We had some girls really jump out today, which was great,” Harnett said. “That added to the feeling on-deck and the excitement. You can just feel it through the whole team, so it just made me more excited. As far as my style (of coaching), I’m always excited for the girls, especially when it’s this close. I want them to see it, I want them to feel the energy while their swimming it, too.”
During the women’s 1,000-yard freestyle — the longest distance event of the meet — the College trailed in the beginning, but the event became close after the 29th lap of the 40-lap race. Freshman Lion Gabi Denicola paced herself throughout and was able to take first with a time of 11:28.03. While she was pushing through the event, Harnett and the rest of the team could be seen cheering excitedly on the side of the pool, adding to the energy of the meet.
Sophomore Marta Lawler was another stand out during the meet. In the women’s 100-yard breaststroke, Lawler and a Ramapo swimmer were neck and neck, until Lawler was able to edge out her competitor to take first with a time of 1:10.86.
In the women’s 200-yard breaststroke, Lawler began the event swimming alongside the opposition, but was able to gain a commanding lead and took first again, clocking in a time of 2:32.71.
Lawler was in the pool again when the College went first, second and third in the women’s 200-yard IM. Junior Brenna Strollo coasted into first with a time of 2:16.96. Lawler followed, touching the wall at 2:20.96. Freshman Lindsay Rippey finished with a time of 2:27.68 to take third for the event.
At the end of the meet, Strollo commented on the feeling of seeing her teammates cheering her on, something that shows how close and supportive they are of one another.
“It’s a great feeling and I love having the team cheer for me, but I think, more importantly, is having the team chemistry during practice, as well,” Strollo said. “We do a lot of cheering here, but we do even more cheering at practice.”
Harnett attributes the success of the team to the chemistry that they have and how important it is for everyone to support each other during the meets.
“It just adds to the excitement of the meet,” Harnett said. “When someone is swimming a 500 or 1,000, it’s a long race and if you just see people sitting on the bleachers not engaged in the meet, it makes a huge difference on how they’re going to perform. But when you see your whole team lined up behind you, it’s going to bring you to that next level in what you can accomplish.”