Despite a few stellar performances on both sides, neither the men nor the women swimming teams brought home the gold at this year’s Patriot League Championships. The men placed fifth overall while the women took third. The host, Navy, captured the championship on both sides.
For the men, the three-day competition was filled with moments of brilliance, which unfortunately, were not enough to win overall. The slew of broken records began on day one when first-year Dan Sweeney bettered his personal record in the preliminary race, swimming the 50 yard freestyle in 21.06. He then reset the record again, taking third in the final race with a time of 20.95, which is the fourth best time in Colgate’s history.
During the second day, junior Tucker Gnieweck raised his personal best, qualifying for the finals of the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 51.31, good enough for fourth place on the all-time list. Not satisfied, Gneiweck broke the all-time record in the final, taking sixth in 50.98. The second day ended with the fall of another school record, this one in the 800 yard freestyle relay. The relay team of sophomore Costas Hadjipateras, sophomore Pat White, junior Devon Healey, and sophomore Casey Powers reset the record school at 6:41.81, taking fifth place. On the third day, it was Hadjipateras’ turn to shatter a school record, swimming to fifth place in the 100 yard butterfly in 1:50.62, a marked improvement over his former record of 1:54.14.
The Raider women began the competition with a record breaking performance by junior Caren Guyette in the 500 yard freestyle. On the day, Colgate would take three second place finishes, including Guyette’s effort. The other two came in the 200 yard individual medley which was won by junior Erin McGraw and the 400 yard medley relay, swum by first-year Lia Kunnapas, first-year Emma Santoro, McGraw and Guyett.
Taking the two top spots in the 400 yard individual medley, sophomore Erica Derlath and Guyette performed spectacularly. With only .04 seconds separating them at the finish, it was definitely an exciting race. McGraw joined her teammates among the ranks of the close finishers, taking second in the 100 yard butterfly, coming in only .08 seconds behind the leader. The team also had a good showing in the 100 yard breaststroke; they placed five swimmers in the top ten.
On the final day, sitting in the third position, the Raiders put forth a solid effort, but were unable to move up in the standings. Competing in her first Patriot League Championship, Kunnapas took top honors in the 200 yard backstroke. Her winning time of 1:59.38 was more than two seconds quicker than the second place finisher. McGraw took home a Patriot League title for the fifth time in her career, capturing the win in the 200 fly. Close behind her, Guyette took second while junior Emily Kelly and Kunnapas took eighth and tenth, respectively. In the diving pool, first-years Kim Pilka and Becky Fisher took second and eighth in the one meter. Senior captain Caitie Curran concluded her collegiate career tying for fifth in the 200 yard breaststroke.
“It is kind of a bittersweet ending to our season – the stellar performances leading to a third place finish,” Curran reflected. “I will tell you this though: our team is ready for another fight. We want to get back up, start working harder, and show the Patriot League that we are in it to win it all next year. As we were leaving the pool deck in Annapolis, we vowed that we would win it next year because third place isn’t satisfying.”
In looking at the season as a whole, Curran was thrilled with her team’s performance even in the face of their third place finish in Annapolis.
“I am so proud and pleased by our team’s performance,” Curran said. “We kept our heads held high and confidences up during the whole meet. As for the season, we had some great meets, some great come-from-behind wins. We thrive in competitive environments and we saw that on the third day of Patriots at the end when we only lost out to second place by 9.5 points.”
With the ending of the 2010 season, the team is looking to the future.
“While we had strong performances and competitive relays across the board, we all recognize that we can make significant improvements as a team for the following season and are looking forward to carrying this attitude until next fall,” Hadjipateras said of the men’s side. “Because of our small size, to improve upon our season for next year we are going to have to work hard to train and stay in shape over the summer. Every member of our team carries a vital role.”