The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Swimming finishes second, ends streak of A-10 titles

The University of Richmond women's swim team came back from 10th place after day one to finish second at the Atlantic 10 Swimming & Diving Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., last week.

After Wednesday's events, the team found itself in last place, but the scores from the next day were high enough to boost the team into second place.

"At no point did we ever give up," coach Matt Barany said.

The preseaon poll predicted that Richmond would place second to Fordham University, and senior Katie Sieben said that the ranking motivated the team to work even harder.

The relay races were also more competitive than ever this year. All of the swimmers' parents traveled to Buffalo for the meet and they coordinated their shirts and waved pompoms during the events, Sieben said.

"I think they were having more fun in the stands than we were," she said.

The entire team was extremely enthusiastic though, Barany said, including himself.

"By the time we make it to the A-10s, a lot of my work is complete, so I get to laugh and scream and act goofy on the side of the pool," he said.

The parents also followed the blog that Barany updated on The Collegian Web site. Followers were able to see behind-the-scenes details that were not available in the updates on other Web sites, he said.

"Out of all the events I've coached or swam at, this was the one that needed blogging the most," he said.

Sophomore Charlotte Brackett broke the 24-year-old school record in the 200-yard freestyle. Junior Nicole LePere also broke both a personal and school record in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1 minute, 57.93 seconds, according to the Richmond athletic Web site.

Freshman Lauren Hines was named the A-10 Most Outstanding Rookie, according to the A-10 championship Web site. She was a member of the 400-yard freestyle relay team that won gold, along with Sieben, Brackett and junior Natalie Lewis, with a time of 3:23.35.

Hines also set the A-10 record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 0:53.94. She is ranked 30th in the country in the backstroke, Barany said. He said he hoped that with further training, she would shave off enough time to clinch a spot at the NCAA Championships.

At one point, Richmond was tied with Fordham for first place with 536 points, but Fordham broke ahead with points gained in later events and eventually won the championship. The scores from Fordham's diving team also helped them gain the lead.

Richmond is in the process of rebuilding its diving team, Barany said. The most recent coach, Diane Maiese, left Richmond for unspecified reasons. An interim diving coach, Erika Matheis, a 2008 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been working since January to recruit new divers.

"My goal right now is to recruit two girls for next year," Matheis said. "I came from a team of 16, but it had both men and women."

Her goal is to have the divers and swimmers interact more than they have in past years, she said.

"My divers will be lifting weights in the morning with the swimmers," she said. She is even in the process of looking at divers graduating high school in 2011, she said.

For Sieben and Alex Helland, the two senior captains, being with their teammates around the clock is what they will miss the most.

"There's so much that happens in the pool and in the locker room after practice, with all the talking and inside jokes," Helland said.

Both said there were some aspects they wouldn't miss.

"Getting up at five in the morning," Sieben said. The intense practice schedule helps form the strong bonds between teammates though, both said.

"We practice nine times a week," Helland said. "Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. Every afternoon Monday through Friday, and Saturday morning for four hours."

The obvious goal for next year is to win the championship, Barany said. Six new swimmers are set to join the team next year, with a possible nine total recruits coming to Richmond.

"This is the most cohesive group we've had in a long time," he said.

As for the seniors, it will be a strange adjustment to have an abundance of free time, Sieben and Helland said.

"I've been swimming competitively since I was eight," Helland said.

Sieben has been in the pool since she was three, she said.

"I might try a new sport, such as running or triathalons," she said. "I just love being active."

Sieben might also travel to Buffalo next year to watch the team vie for another championship title.

"The last night before we left, I told the team to go back next year and win their first together," she said.

Contact staff writer Leigh Donahue at leigh.donahue@richmond.edu

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