Both the Georgetown University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams capped off excellent seasons with top finishes at the annual Big East championships on Feb. 25. The men’s team won its second consecutive conference championship, while the women’s team finished in third place.
Despite starting the season 6-0 in dual meets, the men’s swimming team stumbled toward the end of the season, losing matchups against George Washington University and Seton Hall University. In spite of these disappointing performances, the team came into the weekend well-rested following a nearly month-long hiatus after the Seton Hall regular season finale.
Head Coach Jack Leavitt emphasized the difference between last year’s team and this year’s team, even as the pressure of being reigning champions hung over the Hoyas.
“The message all year was not about a title defense, it was not ours to defend,” Leavitt said in an interview with The Hoya. “It was a brand-new journey with a brand-new group to try to accomplish something with a group of people who haven’t done it before.”
Georgetown started the meet, which was hosted at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, N.Y., exceptionally well, leading after the first day of the four-day tournament. This excellent start was driven by a program-best performance in the 200-yard medley relay, where sophomore John McEachern, first-year Bailey De Luise, senior Michael Baldini and sophomore Connor Brennan finished with a blistering 1:27.60 to notch first place.
While Georgetown led by 19 points after day one, Xavier University cut the lead to just 0.5 points halfway through the meet. However, Baldini continued his outstanding season for the Hoyas on day two, winning the 200 individual medley (IM) event and helping Georgetown keep a narrow hold on its tenuous lead.
Day three of the tournament saw senior Sean Percin deliver a 1:37.68 performance in the 200 freestyle, landing him in third place overall. McEachern added a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke, while Baldini won second place in the 100 butterfly event.
Despite such strong performances in the first three days of the meet, the men’s title came down to the final relay event: the 400 freestyle relay. Leading by just nine points, the Hoyas needed a top three finish to secure their second consecutive Big East championship. The experienced team of Percin, graduate Andrew Babyak, senior Josiah Lauver and Baldini did exactly that, earning second place and scoring high enough to clinch Georgetown’s first-place overall finish over Xavier.
Georgetown’s women’s swim team also put together a very strong performance. The Hoyas finished in third place behind Villanova, who won their 10th consecutive title, and the University of Connecticut Huskies.
The women’s team also started the meet off strong, led by the 200 medley relay team of sophomore Maddie Haley, first-year Alex Breuer, sophomore Genevieve Youngman and junior Bella Wylie. The relay team took second, finishing at 1:41.13.
Over the course of day two and three, junior Erin Hood shined for Georgetown. Hood posted exceptional times in both the 200 and 400 IM events, finishing in second and first place, respectively. Her 400 IM time of 4:14.78 shattered her own school record for the event.
Day three also saw first-year Angelica Reali take first place and Wylie take second place in the 100 butterfly. Haley added a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke as well. Wylie and Hood capped the women’s meet on day four, finishing second in the 100 freestyle and 200 breaststroke, respectively.
As Saturday’s performance showcased, Georgetown appears to have a strong, young team that can continue to lead them to future successes. Of the 13 men who received all-Big East honors, four were first years and five were sophomores. Of the 11 women who received all-Big East honors, five were first-year students, three were sophomores and two were juniors.
With 13 combined seniors and graduate students on the 2022-2023 roster, Leavitt is not worried about losing key leadership pieces. Instead, he praised the current leaders for serving as mentors and putting their undergraduate teammates in a great position to lead in the future.
“I think our sophomores and juniors are prepared to step into those roles,” Leavitt said. “I couldn’t be more excited about the group we have coming in next year.”
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