Curtis Leads Swimming at PLC’s

Curtis Leads Swimming at PLCs

Beina Xu

Last weekend, the waters of Bucknell’s pristine pool never stilled; one by one, Colgate’s swimmers and divers shook away the nerves and gave their last hurrahs. For coach and team, the Patriot League Championships was the final stretch – one last chance to beat their best. And indeed that happened. The team broke three first-year records, one varsity record and set numerous new personal bests. While the men’s team finished seventh overall, the women’s squad managed to jump three spots from seventh to fourth by the end of the weekend. “There were a lot of impressive swims turned in by Colgate Raiders,” head swimming coach Steve Jungbluth said. “It was fun to watch them smile – sometimes in satisfaction, other times in disbelief at their performances.”The Championships, which took place at Bucknell University, were held from Thursday to Saturday. On the first day, both the men’s and women’s teams finished in seventh place, but the Raiders set 19 personal bests on the day. Senior co-captain Caroline Curtis came in as Colgate’s top individual finisher in the pool, as she claimed sixth place in the 50-yard freestyle. Senior Lane Ellis also finished with an impressive third in the three-meter diving competition. Sophomore Danielle Graham, junior Amy Cole, senior Aaron Weddle and sophomore Dani Compain all set personal bests in their 500-yard freestyle events. Junior teammate Marc Falkner commented on what he regarded as one of the most exciting moments of the meet: “One of the most memorable swims was definitely Weddle’s 500,” he said. “The entire team was up and cheering for him. It was crazy – and he ended up achieving his goal time.”Falkner himself also set personal best times in the 200-yard IM in both the preliminaries and then again in the finals; first-year Kaci Reams did the same on the women’s side. The women’s 200-yard freestyle relay set the second best Raider time ever with a time of 1:37.96, while the 400-yard medley relay set the third best school time ever.Day two brought improved results for the women’s team, as the squad hopped from seventh to fourth place. This was the day that records were broken. Reams sprinted to shatter one school record, as her time of 1:05.54 in the 100-yard breaststroke broke the varsity and first-year record.In the same event, senior co-captain Caroline Craumer and first-year Magdalena Mango also set personal bests. Classmate Simon Rosen swam a 58.31 to break the 100-yard breaststroke first-year record for the men, a swim that senior co-captain Greg Jachno will never forget.”Rosen’s 100 breaststroke was my favorite event to watch this past weekend,” Jachno said. “The look on his face was just one of pure joy.” The divers pitched in their fair share of record-breaking as well, as senior Jen Busby took back her varsity record from junior teammate Emily McAuliff with a lifetime best performance of 476.05 in the three-meter diving event. Busby placed second on both boards, while McAuliff placed third on the three-meter and sixth on one-meter.”The one-meter was exciting for our team because we had three Colgate finalists,” Busby said. “Emily, [sophomore] Gretchen Swarr and I all competed in that event, while most of the other teams only had one contender.”The men’s side saw great depth in its pool of contenders – more so than in any other year. Ellis dove beautifully on the three-meter board, placing third overall, and finished in fourth place in the one-meter. The season is not quite over for the divers, as they will compete in the NCAA Zones next week in Annapolis, MD.Other highlights of the day included three consolation final victories by Rosen, first-year Colby Seamans and classmate Allie Lenci. Rosen’s 100-yard breaststroke time won the consolation final, while Seamans set a new personal best in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 59.74 en route to a consolation final win. Lenci also triumphed in the 100-yard butterfly consolation final in a time of 58.60, the fourth best time at Colgate.The women’s squad set the fourth best time for Colgate in the 200-yard medley relay, while the men’s team touched in with the third best time in Raider history.”The last relay was incredible for me,” senior co-captain Mike Gentithes said. “It was the culmination of a lot of hard work. My teammates really got behind me and helped me push to my best swim in my last collegiate swim.”Lenci shared similar sentiments: “The relays were the most exciting out of all the swims,” she said. “The whole team got behind the four people in the pool, and all eyes were on them.”The PLC’s marked the end of the season – the end of a unique team chemistry and athletic experience. The team faced many hardships and challenges throughout the season, including injuries and frustrating losses. Both the coaches and swimmers, however, are strong believers that the squad’s greatest strength was apparent in its endurance and determination. “Our greatest strength would have to be our perseverance,” Jungbluth said. “I don’t even want to know how many losses we had to endure during the dual meet season. The greatest challenge that the swimmers faced was making the attempt to bring the team together as a single, cohesive unit. They made great strides this season, but there is still a long, long way to go.”For the swimmers, it was the uncanny sense of camaraderie between all team members that made the season most meaningful.”We always brag that we are the closest team,” Jachno said. “We got extremely close this season – some might even say we got a little weird.”Gentithes agrees with his fellow captain: “What makes this year’s team so special is the togetherness and the determination that everyone has shown,” he said. “You could really feel it on the third day of the meet. We had been through a lot of ups and downs, but nobody was sitting back in the team area; everyone was still pushing themselves to their best efforts, supporting each other all the way. The perseverance on this team has been exceptional.”This year’s group has been marked by this dogged sense of determination and the ability to rebound after losses and recover swiftly from disappointments. With new recruits entering the fold and seniors departing, who knows what next year may hold. But for now, the athletes can leave the lanes feeling a sense of accomplishment, ending their season with lasting memories alongside their teammates.