By Helen Lucas
After months of demanding practices, hours of lifting weights, and countless minutes spent staring at a black line at the bottom of the pool, the Springfield swim team is ready for their championship meet. NEWMACs: a mentally and physically draining four day meet at WPI that the team has been training for all season.
The Pride has tough competition against MIT, a nationally ranked team that has been dominant in the conference for the past six years for the women, and eight years for the men. The women are looking for a strong second place finish while the men will be fighting for fifth against Babson and Clark. In big meets, like NEWMACs, anything could happen. “It all comes down to hundredths of second,” said head coach John Taffe.
Juniors Kent Parsons and Austin Von Heeringen will lead the men in the race for fifth. Von Heeringen will be swimming the 500 freestyle, which he finished in eighth last year, the 100 backstroke, where he finished ninth, and the 200 yard backstroke which he finished third in with a time of 1:51.83. Parsons will be swimming breaststroke events for the Pride. Last year Parsons finished seventh in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:06.28.
The women will be led by sophomore Olivia Paione and senior Emily Medeiros. As a freshman last year at NEWMACs, Paione finished seventh in the 200 free and fourth in the 200 IM with a time of 2:09.57. Medeiros placed third, narrowly beating out her teammate, in the 200 IM (2:09.50) and first in the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke with times of 1:02.68 and 2:16.12 respectively. Medeiros has tough competition against an MIT swimmer and is looking to hold her conference titles and records in both breaststroke events. “They are both two of the top swimmers nationally and they’ll both only make each other go faster,” said Taffe.
Last year Medeiros qualified for the NCAA DIII Championships in the 100 and 200 breaststroke where she finished sixth in the 200 breaststroke (2:16.66) and fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.45). Medeiros has already qualified for the NCAA DIII Championship meet in March and will continue training after NEWMACs.
The Pride still has a lot of time to learn and grow, out of of the 24 women going to the meet 10 of them are freshman. “As a group we think has a lot of potential,” said Taffe. “If they do what other people have done in the past then big things are going to happen.”