The Babson pre-game chant still hummed in the rafters as the swimmers approached the blocks for the 200-medley relay. With only three weeks until the NEWMAC Championships, Saturday afternoon stood to be one of the final weeks of preparation for the Springfield College men’s swimming and diving team.
Using a strong start from Travis Morse, Michael Normoyle, Pat Geraghty and Jason Scotto in the medley relay, as well as a dominant performance from Kenny Pancoast, Jack Lewis and Pat Smith at the diving end, Springfield jumped out to an early lead and never looked back en route to a 173-123 victory over visiting Babson at Art Linkletter Natatorium.
Aware that a strong start was essential to a good meet, Springfield sputtered shortly following the relay, before gaining traction and pulling away.
“To tell you the truth, we were a little shaky in the next couple of events, in the 1000 [freestyle] and the 200 [freestyle],” said Coach John Taffe, “but after that, I did gather the guys and said, ‘Hey, we need to bounce back and get it together a little better,’ and they did. We got stronger as the meet progressed.”
Despite treading water in the 1000 and the 200, Springfield still held a 28-27 edge on the scoreboard, a lead that they refused to relinquish, winning seven of the next eight events. In total, Springfield would bring home 13 individual event victories, including two one, two, three finishes at the diving end of the pool and three one-two finishes from the swimming side.
Although the Pride would win their seventh dual meet of the year, the team is still aware that the season will be judged on their performance at the NEWMAC Championships in mid-February.
“[NEWMACs] will measure whether we’ve had a good year or not,” says Taffe.
“We talk about peaking at the right time, and that’s basically what we’re trying to do,” adds diving Coach Peter Avdoulos. “Every dual meet is an opportunity to work towards gaining experience for the championships.”
As the season reaches its climax, the preparation for the championships changes to a rest and recover type of atmosphere. For the past month, the swimming and diving team has been to Florida on Christmas day as well as four to five hours of training most every day.
“That’s all part of the process. Now we get to this point, and it’s basically what they call tapering and resting,” notes Taffe.
For the next three weeks, the team will back off on training to allow the team to fully rested for the NEWMACs.
“As long as you’ve done that training, now is when the payoff really comes,” says Coach Taffe.
And through the successful season up to this point, both Taffe and Avdoulos agree that this group has a high ceiling, but are quick to note that there is no pressure, just 100 percent belief.
“This group, is in my estimation, one of the best teams we’ve had and I feel very strongly about that,” said Taffe.
Adds Avdoulos, “They’re really self motivated. They buy into the process. Nobody is afraid to work hard.” Continues Avdoulos, “We have the utmost confidence in what they’re capable of and what they can achieve.”
As Feb. 15 continues to creep closer, the men’s swimming and diving team continues to prepare for the real measuring stick of where this team stands. As Avdolous points out, “We’re excited to see what they’re going to do. They’re going to do great.”