The University of Richmond women’s swimming and diving team concluded its winter season on Feb. 22, finishing fourth in the Atlantic 10 conference championships.
The Spiders tallied 453.5 points in the meet, which George Washington University ultimately won. Sophomore diver Emma Yeakley led the Spiders with a personal-best score of 241.20 in the diving competition, while swimmers sophomore Maggie Purcell, junior Ellie Ronan and seniors Hannah Gouger and Eliza Manning placed second in their 200-yard medley relay (1:40.81).
Ronan, Purcell and Manning joined first-year Lauren Medlin in the 800-freestyle, finishing third (7:18.82). Purcell took home a silver medal after finishing the 400 individual medley with a season-best performance (4:17.09). Medlin also took home a silver medal after notching a personal best in the 100-yard freestyle (50.43). Gouger, who will compete in the trials for the 2021 Olympics, won the 200 backstroke for the fourth straight season (1:55.84).
“The majority of the team would agree that we had a pretty great conference,” Manning said. “We had a lot of best times and a lot more people scoring points than the previous year. Plus, every relay made a podium, which is top three, so that was pretty special for us.”
Among season highlights, the Spiders placed sixth at the three-day Patriot Invitational at George Mason University in November with 372 points. Purcell and Manning both placed in the UR all-time top 10 for their 200 individual medley times, 2:02.46 and 2:03.64, respectively. Purcell also placed first in the 400-individual medley (4:20.22). Manning finished first in the 100 freestyle (52.92). Ronan finished third with a career best in the 400 individual medley (4:25.31).
“The Patriot Invite gave us a good indication of how the conference was going to be with us and really tested our strength and mental toughness competing against a lot of teams that were suited up and rested,” Manning said.
Senior diver Maddy Chao said the two-day Richmond Duals competition at UR in October, which was early in the season, was a good start for the 2019-20 season.
On the first day of the Duals competition, the Spiders defeated Duquesne University 174-105. Gouger placed first in the 100-yard backstroke (55.84). Medlin also placed first in the 50-yard freestyle (23.99).
On the second day, the Spiders defeated Davidson University 164-131. Senior diver Sydney Weiskopf placed first in the one-meter and three-meter boards, Gouger was first in the 100-yard backstroke (57.02), and Medlin finished first in the 50-yard free (24.07).
The swimming and diving season normally starts at the beginning of the academic year and goes through the early part of the spring semester. But, training is constant and there is no off-season, Barany wrote, who has guided the team for more than 15 years.
A question many outsiders have is whether swimming and diving is an individual or team sport.
“Both diving and swimming are similar in that they are both individual sports when you’re not on a team,” Chao said. “You definitely focus a lot on improving yourself to better the team. It is so important to have the team and to lift each other up because you do so much better under those circumstances. So while I think it’s a very individualized sport, we do a very good job of coming together and trying our best as a team.”
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Although the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted the women’s swimming and diving schedule, Matt Barany, head swim coach, and head dive coach Nathan Parker were optimistic about next season. Parker wrote in an email to The Collegian that a handful of swimmers and divers had qualified for post-season competitions.
“The team is looking great for next season,” Parker wrote. “We graduated two seniors and have one promising incoming freshman. The slightly smaller diving squad will change certain dynamics of practices and help us to train at the elite level we are aiming for.”
The team has six first-year swimmers coming in next year, Barany wrote, but is losing senior swimmers Lexie Gilbert, Gouger and Manning, and divers Chao and Weiskopf.
“We are excited about next year,” Barany wrote. “We imagine our points output at the end of the year will be better; however, we are losing a talented senior class.”
Contract contributor Miles Goldman at email@example.com.
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