By Miguel Gonzalez
The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams emerged victorious in the TCNJ Invitational during the weekend of Friday, Dec. 2.
After scratching a close win against New York University, the men’s team torpedoed to first place against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, University of Bridgeport, Sarah Lawrence College, West Chester University and East Stroudsburg University.
In the 200 freestyle event, the experienced squad of seniors Andrew Nesbitt, Scott Vitabile and Ryan Gajdzisz joined junior Adam Coppola and surged to first place with a time of 1:23.20. By the end of the meet, the Lions accumulated 441 points — 212 points ahead of the second place University of Bridgeport Purple Knights.
Meanwhile, the women ultimately pulled a close first-place finish, scoring 57 points more than the East Stroudsburg University Warriors.
The Lions knew they were in for a competitive invitational starting in the 400-yard medley relay. The veteran team of juniors Ali Huber, Debbie Meskin and Marta Lawler and senior Brenna Strollo finished a mere tenth of a second ahead of University of Bridgeport University with a time of 4:00.54.
On Saturday, Dec. 4, the men’s team left no doubt of their 12th ranked national status. At the 400 individual medley, the Lions filled the first three places and gained 53 points with the trio of junior Logan Barnes and sophomores Sam Maquet and John Gregory.
Vitabile secured first place in the 100 butterfly with a time of 50:20. Freshman Harrison Yi also grabbed first place in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:41.23. Yi’s performance at the invitational earned him his sixth consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Rookie of the Week honor.
“Harrison is a very talented swimmer with tremendous work ethic,” head coach Brian Bishop said. “He has some very successful teammates in Vitabile, Gajdzisz and Barnes who push him every day in practice. Harrison has a very bright future ahead of him.”
The Lions were an ocean apart from the competition as they scored 982 points — 551 points ahead of the second place U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
“These guys are very selfless and always look at the big picture,” Bishop said.
At the women’s side, the Lions began to build a lead with total of 636 points. The Lions pushed hard for a second-place finish under the efforts of freshman Annie Menninger, junior Marta Lawler and sophomore Gabi Denicola.
By Sunday, Dec. 4, the men’s swimming team capped off its first-place team victory, scoring a total of 1,486 points.
In the 100 freestyle, the Lions represented the top seven places with Vitabile leading the pride and swimming with a time of 45.92.
At the last event, the 400 freestyle medley, Nesbitt, Gajdzisz, Vitabile and sophomore Alex Skoog finished 15 seconds ahead of the Merchant Marines with a time of 3:04.40.
The women also came out with a first-place finish on the final day. Meskin accomplished a personal record of 2:10.85 in the 200 fly and swam to first place.
At the diving board, junior Hannah Raymond reached to second place and scored 267.53. Senior Sarah Grassi followed in third place, scoring 262.95. Raymond’s diving performance garnered her an NJAC Diver of the Week honor.
The men’s swimming and diving teams return to the pool on Saturday, Jan. 7, at Johns Hopkins University to compete against West Chester University. The women’s swimming and diving teams return later on Wednesday, Jan 21. to compete at Rowan University.