The Springfield College men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams begin their seasons soon, and both swimmers and divers are eager to get back into the pool.
For the men’s side, they look to improve on their disappointing finish to last year’s campaign, as they placed fourth on the last three days at the NEWMAC championships. The team tallied just 640 points during the final day of competition, falling far short of both WPI and MIT.
Swimming seniors James Chan, Dominic Marco and Owen Oldenburg look to lead the team to success this season, with many underclassmen joining the team.
For Chan, who topped the team’s best times last year in the 100, 200, and 500 yard freestyle races, as well as the 100 and 200 yard butterfly events, it is important for him to take on that leadership role.
“My job as a senior is to inspire my teammates and underclassmen to get better in the water,” said Chan. “I would be excited to see any of them surpassing me.”
Offseason workouts and individual practices are essential in the swimming and diving program, with much of their progress being made during the offseason. Chan echoes this sentiment, and expressed a lot of excitement about the improvements that himself and his teammates made over the summer.
“The whole team also became better in one summer time, which makes the atmosphere become more competitive, everyone is fighting for their spots for the NEWMAC championship,” said Chan. “The team getting better as a whole is rejuvenating.”
For the divers, Luca Brashear, Sean Andrews, and Dai-Quan Thomas look to perfect their approaches and entries as they come into their final years with the school.
Brashear will look to replicate his noteworthy performances from the last couple of seasons. After being named NEWMAC Men’s Diver of the Year last season, he also represented the Pride on the national stage, receiving multiple All-America honors during the NCAA Division III Championships in Indianapolis.
With the women’s squad, senior swimmers Mikali Charlemagne, Lefteri Roba, and Elizabeth Fraser are just some of the talented swimmers that make up the team this year.
The team struggled toward the end of last season losing four straight meets in January heading into championships.
An inconsistent season for the team left a lot of question marks heading into the NEWMAC championships in February.
The team was able to secure a podium finish last year at the NEWMAC’s however, finishing behind Wheaton and MIT, but besting teams such as Coast Guard and WPI.They improved over each day from sixth place on the first day, to a total of 646 points and a top three finish at the conclusion of the competition, which assuredly is a good sign as they start a new campaign.
Juniors Elizabeth Athanas and Megan Crawford also look to improve from last season, as they placed in last year’s championships, with Athanas finishing tenth in the 200 breaststroke and a ninth place finish for Crawford in the three-meter board.
Along with Crawford, Lauren Bednarczyk and Sarah Friedman round out the diving upperclassmen who hope to leave their mark during their penultimate collegiate season.
Both the men’s and women’s teams benefit from some fresh faces. Newly-hired assistant coach Howard Hinds, a former Springfield and Olympic swimmer, and graduate assistant coach Grace Carlson look to help the coaching staff this upcoming season. Both Hinds and Carlson are bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the pool.
“We have six different coaches, who all work together — whatever their area of expertise may be,” said Peter Avdoulos, the head diving coach.
“We have a wide range of ability on the team,” said Avdoulos, who enters his 38th season as the head diving coach for the men’s and women’s teams. “We want to teach them what it means to be good, and how to succeed.”
The men’s season began with a loss to Coast Guard this past Saturday, but despite the defeat, the Pride had some strong performances. James Chan continued his success with a win in the 200-yard butterfly and a first place finish in the 100-yard freestyle.
James was joined by his sophomore brother Jonathan, who posted the top three times in the 100 fly and won the 200 individual medley. Both brothers also impressed in the 400 medley relay race. Fellow sophomores Ryan Goolsbey and Jordan McMillan also did well in their events.
Springfield looks to get a bounceback win against NEWMAC rival MIT at home on Saturday, with the meet starting at 1 p.m.
For the women’s team, it was a similar story. The Pride suffered defeat in a tri-meet, losing to Coast Guard, who in turn would be bested by the University of Rhode Island.
Kay Shen, a sophomore from Hong Kong, delivered an impressive performance for the Pride. She finished top two in the 100 yard freestyle and delivered an impressive time of just two minutes in the 200. Shen also helped the team win the 200 freestyle relay team race, along with Mikali Charlemagne and Erin Kelaher.
The women’s team will look to capture their first win of the young season, as they also face MIT at 1 p.m.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics