Swimming to Compete in A-10 Championships

Will Jones-

It’s that time of year again. The last home meet is over and the final tune-ups are being made as the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams prepare to ship up to Geneva, Ohio, for the A-10 Conference Championships. This high octane, 4-day-long marathon that began this morning, February 14, and wraps up on Saturday night represents the culmination of all the hard workouts, training trips, and dual meets going back to when the competition season began in the early fall. The championships will pit the best against the best, the new, and the clock, as athletes scramble to make finals, grab points for team scoring, and even maybe secure a time fast enough to qualify for the ever elusive National Championships.

The men’s team looks to trump their preseason ranking of 8th out of 8 teams in the conference. After an 8th place finish last year, the men return a lot of their top performers, including senior captains Henry Resweber, Taylor Willenbring, and Riley League, and hope to surprise the field at the championships.

Captain Riley League ’18 looks to make a splash at this year’s Atlantic 10 Championship. Photo courtesy of Davidson Athletics

“We’ve been approaching this year with the feeling that we have nothing to lose,” according to League ‘18. “Last year we talked about the ridiculous notion of walking down the street and being afraid of being robbed when you have no money. So we thought this year about going out and stealing from the others; in a non-honor-code-impugning way, of course.”

Part of the strategy will be to bring on the intensity in morning heats to make afternoon finals. The events at swimming championships are scored based on individual place. The top 16 in every event score points for their team, with higher points for higher places. Since the pool is only 8 lanes, there have to be two final heats for every race. However, unlike events in track and field where one can still run a winning time from the slow heat, you cannot outplace your final in swimming. In other words, if you win the B final for the 9th-16th place qualifiers and your time is the third-fastest overall, you still only get 9th. Conversely, if you perform poorly in your A final, the worst you can place is 8th.

This puts a lot of emphasis on performance in the morning qualifying heats. According to Willenbring, Coach John Young emphasizes that it’s not just the qualifiers for the top final who have the greatest impact, but those underdog players who duke it out for 14th, 15th, and 16th can also rack up enough points to greatly improve team score.

Indeed, the ‘Cats are trying to do just that going in, with several performers knocking on the top 16 on the conference time lists going in. Resweber has the third best time in the conference in the 200 freestyle, with Cole Riggan ‘18 and Willenbring also inside the top 16. Sophomore stud Crossan Cooper is knocking in the 500 and 1000 free races while Cooper and Resweber have the 4th and 5th fastest times in the mile respectively. First-year Kevin Andrews has strong times in the backstroke races, while Cooper again holds top 16 times in the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke.

While the women’s team has one of the smaller teams in the conference, their squad of 22 is looking to make a dent in the top 5 teams. While they graduated top scorers Elise Lankiewicz and Katy Williams last year, senior Sarah Coats thinks that the team is doing a good job in filling their shoes: “We’re excited that a lot of people who didn’t have the opportunity to swim relays in the past are able to step up and do that this year, particularly our underclassmen.” School record-holder Maggie Farrell ‘19 concurs that the time sheets show that there is a lot of potential to place many in the top 16  this year. “Even though we’re a smaller squad than last year, the energy and excitement is still the same, and that’s the intensity we need to get through the morning heats,” she added.

Maggie Farrell ’19 is a member of the school record holding 400 medley relay. She looks to have a big meet this week. Photo courtesy of Davidson Athletics

Boasting the 5th-best time in the 50 breast, Sarah Coats holds top 16’s across the board in that stroke category, while sophomore Isabella McElrath is knocking across the board in the butterfly. Meanwhile, senior Hayley Atkins is poised to score well across the diving events, and sophomore standout Frances Resweber holds times close to top 16 across all events in the freestyle category, demonstrating some impressive range from 50 yards, all the way up to the mile.

From the first competitions this morning to the final relay on Saturday, the ‘Cats hope to send the intensity through the roof, and potentially nab a top team finish.