The Collegian
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Women's swimming & diving hosts James Madison University

The University of Richmond women's swim and dive team will host its second home meet of the season against James Madison University at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29.

There are many reasons the swim and dive team has a minimal number of home meets, head swimming coach Matt Barany said. The primary one is that Richmond's team is all-female. Other teams are co-ed, and the males would not be able to compete here, he said.

Another reason is that the females know how to take full advantage of the home meet better than the other teams, who are well-aware of this, Barany said.

"In a way, it's a compliment," he said.

Having the support of family, friends and other student athletes is a benefit of having home meets, senior swim team co-captain Nicole LePere said.

Saturday's events will include an alumni meet in the morning, followed by the basketball game at noon and then the meet against JMU in the late afternoon. It's going to be a close meet, Danielle Tansel, assistant swim coach, said.

"We are evenly matched against JMU," she said, "but they have a bigger team. There is a lot of pressure on our girls. Every point is going to count."

Although the skeleton of the team, which narrowly beat JMU last fall, is the same, the females were focusing on being physically stronger this year, Barany said.

"We performed well, having lost last year. We knew we had to get better," he said.

After having won the Atlantic-10 Championship eight years in a row, finishing second last season was a hard blow for the Richmond swimmers, Barany said.

After the loss, Tansel said, "We had to ask ourselves, 'How are we gonna get back on top and be class acts while we do it?'"

To have an athlete who is good and humble - that's the golden egg, she said.

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The women put up a great fight last year, LePere said.

"We just go in saying, 'We wanna win.' If you do well and make finals - that's all you can ask for," she said.

A personal goal for LePere is to make top times in all of her events during the A-10s, she said. LePere will be swimming the 50-yard freestyle for the first time and will also be swimming the 100-yard and 200-yard backstrokes. LePere has held the record for the 200-yard backstroke for the past three years.

"I have a mixture of feelings as a senior," LePere said. "I really like leading the team, being someone people look up to. I think I'm sadder now that it's closer to the end of the season. It doesn't feel like I'm a senior at all."

Because Saturday's meet is the last home meet of the season, the seniors on the team, LePere, Chrissy Brodt and Natalie Lewis, will receive recognition from Barany, who will say a few words about each.

"The only thing I expect is to cry," senior and co-captain Lewis said. "We have a great team atmosphere. I'm going to have an identity crisis after the season is over."

As for the future for the team, Lewis said, the freshmen this year were talented and motivated. The upperclassmen want to win again more than anything, she said. Having a combination like that was perfect for success in the A-10s, she said.

"I think we're going to surprise people," LePere said. Since the training program has changed, the team has become stronger in its core and legs, she said.

"It definitely transfers into the water," she said.

Tansel said the main goal of the team was to be hard to beat.

"It doesn't matter if you feel like a brick in the water," she said. "No matter what, you fight."

Contact staff writer Liz Monahan at liz.monahan@richmond.edu

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