Excitement filled the natatorium as the swimmers took their marks, and with the sound of a horn, they were off. Amidst the cheers of the crowd, the swimmers raced down their lanes eager to beat their opponents to the wall. Saturday’s meet against Brandeis University officially marked the start of Wesleyan’s 2014-15 swimming and diving season. Countless weeks of early morning practices, rigorous conditioning, and immense dedication had culminated in a Cardinal team keen on prevailing in its season opener. In what turned out to be an exciting meet, the women went on to secure a momentous victory over Brandeis, while the men’s efforts fell just short.
The Cardinals were confronted with a difficult task this weekend by the Brandeis University Judges, a team whose program has improved in the recent past. Regarding the men’s difficult loss, however, Head Coach Peter Solomon identified a crucial component missing from Wesleyan’s lineup.
“In a very close meet, it hurt to have a few of our men either injured or ill as well as studying abroad,” Solomon said. “Had we been full force on Saturday, I think we might have been able to pull out this win, but I was proud with how our men swam.”
Despite the loss, Solomon did have a lot to be proud of as multiple swimmers placed first in their events. This included captain Erik Yan ’15 who touched the wall first in the 200 medley relay and the 100 and 200 fly, Spencer Tang ’18 in the 200 medley relay and the 100 and 200 back, Jacques Bazile ’16 in the 200 medley relay and 100 breast, and first place dives from Brandon Pearson ’18 in the one and three meter.
These impressive individual results lend support to the notion that with a full squad, the men’s team is capable of doing damage against any opponent.
The women entered Saturday’s meet with fire in their eyes, eager to set a positive tone for the season. This fire translated into numerous first-place finishes including Captain Angela Slevin ’15 dominating her four events and Rachel Hirsch ’15 prevailing in the 200 medley relay and the 100 and 200 breast.
Additional support came from Alexa Burzinski ’15 and Natasha Cucullo ’15, who each put up strong numbers. Perhaps the most promising aspect of the women’s team, however, was the fact that everyone contributed to the win. Liyan Yao ’16 put up a first-place finish in the 200 IM and the 100 and 200 back, while Serena Zalkowitz ’17 shot through the pool on her way to a win in both sprint free events.
“I’m definitely so excited and proud to have contributed to the team win today,” Zalkowitz said. “Everyone swam so well and it has put us on a positive path for next weekend.”
The final score of Saturday’s meet had the Wesleyan women winning by a score of 220-70, while the men were on the losing side of a 155-135 tally.
Next week, Wesleyan will face off against Bates at home. The Cardinals are aware of the magnitude of this match, as it is their first meet against a fellow NESCAC member.
“Our plan is to stay healthy and remain focused,” Yan said. “Our upcoming meet will be even more challenging than our encounter with Brandeis. Hopefully as the season progresses, we will acclimate back into our competitive rhythm.”
The team is emphasizing weekly performance while staying focused on the long-term goal: a strong showing at the NESCAC Championships in the spring. Next week will be a great opportunity for the Cardinals to establish themselves as a NESCAC swimming and diving powerhouse.