Just as Fall sports’ seasons are drawing to a close, the Swarthmore men’s and women’s swim teams are gearing up for yet another successful season. Both are coming off of a conclusive home win at Ware Pool against McDaniel College, with the men winning 80-15 and the women winning 69-25. Both the men’s and women’s teams are optimistic about the upcoming year, and are looking to strengthen their hold on the Centennial Conference over the upcoming season.
The former have begun the season ranked fourteenth in the country, up ten spots from number 24 last year. Alec Menzer, a junior out of Newark, Delaware, believes the men’s team will live up to its new ranking, in spite of some very strong performers graduating last year.
“This is a very young team,” says Menzer. “We’re absolutely aiming for first place in the Centennial Conferences this year, since we’ve won two of the last three.”
Menzer continues, stating that the team is quite young, with many sophomores and first years, as well as a very strong incoming class. He hopes the team can put as much work in as they can and win as much as possible to set the tone for their arrival next year. While Menzer feels that managing both his swimming and academic schedules is a very difficult commitment, taking a lot of both time and effort, he believes it to be entirely worthwhile, and encourages everyone to take part in sports. Having sent five swimmers to National Championships last year, he hopes that the team will send even more this year.
“I definitely think our two hundred, four hundred, and eight-hundred-meter freestyle relays have a solid chance of going, and we’ll be looking to get as many points as possible at conferences, and anybody who ranks top sixteen will be able to go to Nationals as well.”
Menzer hopes the team can replicate some of the key aspects of the prior season’s success, especially strong individual performances and commanding showings and dual meets. In particular, excellent individual performances have helped in fueling the morale of the team, with the most recent example being Alec Lawless ’22 and Horace Shew’s ’21 performances against McDaniel College on October 26. Shew swam a personal record in the one hundred yard individual medley, easily winning first place, while Lawless placed first in both the fifty and one hundred yard freestyle. First year Lonnie Chien says that performances like these are just what got him to commit to Swarthmore’s swimming program:
“I saw how fast these guys were swimming by the end of the season,” says Chien, “and that’s probably one of the main things that got me over the edge to come to Swat.”
The women’s team are also aiming for new heights this season. Sayaka Vaules ’20 says that Swarthmore Women’s Swimming is hopefully gunning for first place at this year’s Centennial Conference championships.
“Gettysburg and Ursinus have been our main challengers for the title for a while now,” says Vaules, “but we’ve beaten Gettysburg in the last two conference championships, and we think Ursinus are reachable this year.”
Ursinus College have been extremely dominant in the Centennial Conference championships, winning every title since 2014. The senior continues by saying that the women’s team has been stronger every year, and she foresees a conference win within the next couple of years.
“Last Saturday’s meet was a good way to get back into the spirit of racing,” she said, relating to the meet against McDaniel College, “we have a very strong freshman class, and winning this meet was a good way of setting the tone for the rest of the season.”
Vaules adds that the women are a very close-knit group, taking part in weekly activities to build team spirit. The men and women’s teams are hoping to continue reaching milestones as they have done in the past few years during Karin Colby’s tenure as head coach. Recruited from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s team prior to the 2015-2016 academic year, where she exercised the same role, Colby has led the teams to new heights each year she’s been coaching at Swarthmore. She led the men to their first-ever Centennial Conference title in her second year at the helm of Swarthmore’s swimming program, while the women achieved a third-place finish, their best since 2011. Former swimmer Riley Mclaughlin ’21 has nothing but good words for Colby.
“She made practices much more intense than they were before she took over, which is very good for the team’s performance.”
He added that the head coach was excellent at motivating the team for important meets, while also being very serious and driven.
The teams’ next meets are on Friday, November 1, at Bryn Mawr College. The men are competing against Franklin and Marshall College, while the women are also facing Franklin and Marshall as well as Bryn Mawr. Both the men and women will be looking to extend their unbeaten record.