Swimming downs American

January 20, 2011

The Hoyas are trying to gain momentum before the Big East Championships. (Photo by Shira Saperstein)

The Georgetown men’s and women’s swim teams made a splash in their return to competition, with both beating American University in their first meet of the semester. However, the women’s squad also lost to James Madison University. The Hoyas posted strong times, and two more women qualified for the Big East Championship in February.

The Hoyas are trying to gain momentum before the Big East Championships. (Photo by Shira Saperstein)

It was the first time back in the pool for the team since the Patriot Invitational in Fairfax, Va, where the men placed fifth and the women came in fourth. It was also the first time all season that the Hoyas swam in their own pool.

Sophomore Amy Ballanfant had a standout performance at the meet, qualifying for the Big East Championships in the 50 m freestyle and the 100 m freestyle in her first meet back since she broke her foot at the start of the season.  With two meets still to go, all but seven members of the 44-person swim  and dive team have qualified for the championships.

The meet against American had another special meaning for the swimming and diving team as it was the first meet since freshman Michelle Konkoly fell from her Village C window on Jan. 11. Despite a tough week coping with the accident, the team still competed last Saturday.

“It was great to see everyone swimming for themselves and swimming for Michelle at the same time,” senior men’s co-captain Keenan Timko said. (Disclosure: Timko is a contributing editor for the Voice).

As the season approaches the finish line, the seniors on the team reflected back on their past four years. Only four men and three women have remained on the team this long, and they are preparing for their final home meet in McCarthy Pool, which will take place this Saturday against George Washington.

“It’s bittersweet going into this final meet because as much complaining [as] we do during practice, we wouldn’t stick with it for four years if we didn’t love the sport,” women’s co-captain Mallory Kiplinger said.

Although the Hoyas have a number of seasoned veterans, head coach Jamie Holder is in the middle of his first season on the Hilltop. It is never easy to start off fast with a new coach, but Holder is becoming more comfortable with his team.

“I think over the course of the season the team has come to trust me more because of the success that we’ve been having,” he said.

His goal for the meet against George Washington and the meet at Maryland on Feb. 5, is to have the rest of the team qualify for the Big East Championships. At the same time, the team’s focus is on setting new personal records and continuing to improve in preparation for the postseason.  The meet on Saturday promises to be a heated contest, as the teams were very evenly matched last year.

“Georgetown and [George Washington] swimming is an M Street rivalry fiercer than that of Qdoba and Chipotle and every bit as spicy,” Timko said. “The air outside might be cold but the swimming is going to be hot.”

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