FILE PHOTO: CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Sophomore Katie Duncalf finished first in the women’s 200-yard backstroke, with a time of 2:00.81, breaking a program record that she had previously set.
Sophomore Katie Duncalf finished first in the women’s 200-yard backstroke, with a time of 2:00.81, breaking a program record that she had previously set.

After months of building up to this event, Georgetown’s swimming and diving team showed up to the Big East Championship in Ithaca, N.Y., last Wednesday stronger than ever. The Hoyas earned silver medals after the four-day contest and broke five program records on the final day of competition alone.

The women’s team finished second behind Villanova for the second year in a row, as the Hoyas finished with 736.5 points and the Wildcats topped the rankings with 957.7 points. Similarly, the men, who earned 763 points, trailed only Xavier and its 904 points for the second consecutive season.

In addition to its second-place finishes, Georgetown earned an honor for its team as Head Coach Jamie Holder was named Big East Men’s Coach of the Year in his fifth year at the helm of the team.

“It’s definitely an honor and it’s nice to be recognized by my peers,” Holder said. “It was definitely a surprise, but certainly I feel like we’ve made a lot of good strides in the last few years and that’s a testament to the hard work that the swimmers and the coaching staff have put in. This award would not be possible without the help from my assistants and the hard work from our student athletes.”

Junior Erica Fabbri said that though she was nervous leading up to the competition, “positive energy” began to build after her first race and propelled her through a strong performance. As their adrenaline kicked in, the Hoyas began to perform well.

Fabbri kicked off Georgetown’s events and record-breaking swims, earning silver in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.84, breaking her own program record. Sophomore Katie Duncalf finished first in the women’s 200 backstroke with a time of 2:00.81, also breaking her own program record.

Freshman Molly Fitzpatrick earned a gold medal in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 104.46.

“[Fitzpatrick] touched the wall fifth at the 50 and ended up out-touching the competition to be the first female in Georgetown’s history to win a Big East event,” Fabbri said. “It was so exciting to watch and motivated the team to never give up during the race and fight hard for the wall.”

Freshman Christine Ryan came in fourth in the 1650 freestyle, breaking a three-year-old record with a time of 17:07.56 as fellow freshman Madeleine Quinn finished sixth overall in the contest.

In the one-meter diving competition, senior Lauren Kahan earned silver with 481.55 points while sophomore Sarah Jaklitsch and freshman Jennifer Sullivan finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

One of the Hoyas’ favorite parts of the meet came during the relays; Fabbri, a part of the 400 relay team with freshmen Ryan, Kristin Peterson and Bailey Page, said that the energy and positivity that comes along with relay competition goes unmatched.

“There is no greater feeling than when you hear your teammates cheer your name or you hear the ‘Hoya Saxa’ cheer come from the parents in the stands,” Fabbri said.

Sophomore diver Jared Cooper-Vespa agreed with Fabbri and appreciated the energy that the relay teams provided.

“I think our relay boys were particularly inspiring,” Cooper-Vespa said. “You could really tell that they were swimming hard for each other, and the rest of us really fed off that selflessness.”

Cooper-Vespa had a successful weekend, earning two silver medals in the 1m diving competition with 558.05 points and in the 3m diving competition with 567.15 points.

“We’d been practicing our dives for months, so during the meet I just tried to get out of my own way and trust my body’s ability to execute each dive,” Cooper-Vespa said.

On the men’s side of the competition, underclassmen also took some of the top honors. Freshman Samuel Delise earned silver in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:04.50. Sophomore William Leach earned a bronze medal in the 100 freestyle with a time of 45.38, breaking a program record.

According to Cooper-Vespa, the meet’s environment added to Georgetown’s success.

“It’s an awesome atmosphere diving and swimming prime-time under the lights, in front of a big crowd, against the conference’s best divers and swimmers,” Cooper-Vespa said. “As a team we really fed off this atmosphere and put up some great performances all week.”

The Big East Championship wrapped up the season for the Blue and Gray, and for the seniors, it marked the end of their Georgetown careers.

“We’ve been through a lot together,” Holder said about his senior class. “The seniors have certainly helped shape this team and really did a great job buying into the system we have but helping shape the ideas we stand for and the hard work that we put in. It was a lot of fun to see them swim well.”

The Big East experience, Fabbri said, is “quite special.” She and her teammates were able to feed off of each other’s energy and hard efforts in order to finish strong in the championships and end the season on a high note.

“[Performing at the championships] truly brings out the team’s dedication to swimming, to each other, and to Georgetown Athletics,” Fabbri said. “After Big Easts each year, I get more excited for the next season because each year we get faster.”

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