Trial by Fire: A Swimmer’s Reflection on Winning the Big East Conference Championship

April 24, 2022

Georgetown men's swimming and diving celebrates their first Big East Tournament win.

As the last leg of the four by one hundred freestyle relay was approaching the wall, the waterfall of tears began to flow freely from my eyes and there was nothing I could do to hold them back. As a member of the Georgetown Swimming and Diving program, I was overwhelmed with the emotion of being a part of history- for the first time in the program’s 70-year history, the school’s team held a Big East Tournament trophy above their heads. I recall being completely hysterical; laughing, crying and hugging anyone my eyes happened to fall on. This raw emotion was something I never knew was inside of me or was even possible for a human to experience, but there I stood, the area of the pool deck, full of my teammates cheering for our triumph, in a blur around me. 

By only a slim margin of nine points over rival Xavier, the Hoyas finished in first place to clinch the tournament title. This was a historic moment for Georgetown Swimming and Diving that provides the foundation for a legacy of greatness and a high standard of achievement in the future of the program. “I didn’t want to be swimming for anything except the first place,” Drew Carbone, a fifth-year graduate student, said. Carbone, who primarily swims backstroke in the individual medley, stayed with the team for an extra year while completing a graduate program at Georgetown. “Nobody in this program has ever known what championship pedigree really meant.”

During the thick of their training, the Hoyas spent nearly eighteen hours a week between lifts and swims, in addition to their academic schedule. “This title is the culmination of seventy-plus years of dedication to a program, a sport, and the Georgetown community,” junior Mike Baldini says. “Hundreds of Georgetown alumni have found a place in the Georgetown swimming and Diving community and this is the first championship accomplishment of this program.”

Looking back on this moment several months later and recounting that feeling of winning, this was one of the biggest moments of my life. At the championship, I was not just competing for my improvement, satisfaction or pleasure, I was competing for my team; my family. At my club team back home in New Hampshire, I never felt a sense of comradery amongst my teammates. Due to this team dynamic, I was never able to swim or achieve something bigger than myself. At the heart of this experience of making program history is the happiness and love that I give and receive from the people in and around the sport.  

This experience of winning the first-ever conference title is a testament to the fact that any group, organization or sports team is more about the people that make up the team and their character than performance. I have found a second lifelong home amongst this group of people that I am honored to call my teammates, and I know that the sentiment is mutual. “I am honored to carry on decades of tradition from the people that came before me,” says Baldini. “And even more honored to be the first to be a part of the biggest accomplishment in this program’s history.” Working, struggling, growing, and eventually succeeding together is what it truly means to be a part of a winning team. 

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