This week, the Georgetown swimming and diving team will travel to Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., for the Big East Championship, the last contest for the Hoyas this season. As a team, they look forward to the four-day-long competition and to continuing their successes from last season.
“This is what we’ve been working toward all year, so it’s pretty easy to get excited. We’ve been building momentum all year towards the Big East Conference Championships,” Head Coach Jamie Holder said.
The Blue and Gray last competed in Piscataway, N.J., taking on Providence and Rutgers. The men and women soundly defeated Providence by 200-71 and 208-70, respectively. When facing Rutgers, which has only a women’s team, the women’s team lost by a score of 181-94.5.
The men’s team was led by freshmen Samuel Delise and Daniel Ross, who each won two contests. The freshmen on the women’s side also performed well, led by Molly Fitzpatrick, who finished first in the 200-yard individual medley and Ryan Murphy, who came from behind to finish second in the 200-yard backstroke and first in the 100-yard backstroke.
Additionally, the first place 200 freestyle relay team featured freshmen Kristin Peterson and Shana McLaughlin alongside juniors Delaney Bader and Erica Fabbri.
“I think the developments we’ve made over this season have been really good. Our freshman class has strengthened us a lot, but our upperclassmen are stepping up as well,” Holder said.
As the spotlight is approaching, the upperclassmen are setting the stage with confidence. Senior Michael Young does not approach the Big East championships any differently than previous meets.
“Rutgers was just a meet. Big East is also just a meet, and I’m sure all our training will take care of us,” Young said.
Senior Casey Bandman is also excited to perform in her final career contest with her teammates and is eager to see how their excitement will translate into the competition.
“The team’s energy in the practices leading up to the Big East builds every day. It’s great to see teammates posting quick times in practice because everyone knows those times are only going to get faster on race day,” Bandman said.
With some tough losses behind them, the Hoyas have been prepping for the championships by practicing “race-pace” swims, according to Bandman. A race-pace swim entails swimming during practice as if it were the actual competition.
“These practices have been about simulating how we’re going to feel during our races,” Bandman said. “We’ve taken those good swims from New Jersey and built on them every day in practice.”
Coach Holder sees the hard work that his swimmers are putting into their preparation and knows they have the potential to shine in the team’s biggest event of the season. He notes, however, that they have a tough job ahead of them as they face strong competitors in the Big East teams.
“All the teams have improved. There’s more parity in the league this year than there was last year. We’re certainly getting better,” Holder said.
Villanova, led by junior Kaisla Kollanus, the women’s Big East Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week for the last two weeks, has proven to be a solid competitor against the Hoyas in the Big East. As Bandman noted last week, she and her teammates fell to Villanova by 152 points in the Big East Championship last year. She is excited to showcase the strong freshmen this year and capitalize on their past performance against the Wildcats.
Seton Hall, led by freshman Zohar Suslovich, who was named the men’s Big East Swimming and Diving Athlete of the week, will also be a tough opponent, alongside schools like Butler and Xavier.
As seniors, both Young and Bandman are looking to finish their careers out strong in Ithaca. They are excited to compete and they trust in their training and past experiences to help them succeed.
“It’s pretty surreal. Honestly, I just want to have fun and beat the guy next to me and represent Georgetown as best as I can,” Young said.
Bandman has confidence going into her final competition and looks forward to seeing how the Hoyas compete as a team.
“It hasn’t really hit me that this is the last meet of my career. I’m too excited to see how everyone is going to perform this weekend,” Bandman said.
Coach Holder adds to the seniors’ perspective on this final competition.
“They want to go out performing the best as they can and they’re all ready to do that,” Holder said. “I’m excited to see them all perform well.”
The Big East Championship will kick off on Feb. 18 and continue until Feb. 21.