Though the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams opened their 2016-17 season with a loss to Grove City College, both Allegheny teams were happy with their performance.
“We had a pretty solid first meet,” said women’s team captain Megan Feeney, ’17. “We’re still getting used to getting up and racing, but all-in-all the team came together, which was really good. We had some outstanding swims from our first years, and it’s great seeing them get up for each other.”
Feeney finished first in the 100 yard fly with a time of 1:03.41, and third in both the 200 yard fly at 2:22.51 and 200 yard backstroke at 2:18.50.
“A lot of people were doing events they haven’t done in a long time or doing events for the first time. Everything went well, nobody got disqualified, so we did a good job of getting into the rhythm of competing and traveling,” said men’s team captain Jack Bailey, ’17.
Bailey finished first in the 50 free at 21.37 and the 100 free at 48.05, along with competing in the 200-free relay, which placed first with a time of 1:28.34. He also competed in the 200 medley that came in second at 1:37.34. Following the meet against Grove City, Bailey was named Gator Male Athlete of the Week and NCAC Swimmer of the Week by CollegeSwimming.com.
“It was the first time to test ourselves this year, and that’s always fun,” said Head Coach Kirk Kumbier. “I think they had a chance to challenge themselves in events that they should be swimming and a couple people trying new events to see if it’ll be the right spot this year, or knowing they’ll be in different events this season.”
Kumbier added that the first meet gives the team an opportunity to gauge where they are at and where they need to put more work in.
This year, the team has 16 first-years—eight men and eight women.
“From the team perspective, having a larger team is always fun. We can see it on deck when we stand and watch practices. You can hear it when you’re coaching and it’s fun to see the lanes full,” Kumbier said. “Sometimes that can be a challenge for the swimmers, running into each other, but we break up a couple practices a week and give them options. I commend the upperclassmen and the team as a whole for pushing through that and we, as coaches, have fun when we see that effort.”
Feeney said having a larger team will increase competition with other teams in dual meets and NCAC championships.
“Getting through the first five weeks is always the hardest,” Feeney said. “We’re all trying to get to know each other, figure out everyone’s strokes and tendencies, and find the best way to connect with each other. But we’re past that, and we’ve built our base, and now we can have fun with it.”
As the team settles into the season, Kumbier is looking to have each athlete improve through the season.
“It would be great to shoot for everybody to have lifetime bests. That is always a theme that we have—we want everyone to improve every year. We want the team to continue growing, which comes on the recruiting side. We’ve been getting stronger together and it’s been a very positive atmosphere in general, which I think has been good for the team in terms of a shift in culture focused on hard work and academics.”
Kumbier said he is proud of the team for their strong academics and that one of the team’s goals is always academics.
“We want to place higher at conference. There’s a couple teams that have barely beat us for a couple years and I think with the bigger numbers we can beat them,” Bailey said. “I know the men’s team has been really close to a record for a couple years, so looking to break that record, which would be exciting. And I have done well in the 50 [freestyle] so far this year, and last year I got an NCAA B cut but wasn’t fast enough to compete at Nationals, so I’m hoping to be able to compete in Nationals this year.”
Kumbier said the team wants to increase conference placement, but he is focusing on the process that will get the team to that point.
“While we have outcome goals in mind, we want to help individuals and the team make it further and further each year and keep the big picture in mind as coaches,” Kumbier said.
Feeney and Bailey agreed that the teams are excited for the season and looking ahead to future meets.
“I’m looking forward to senior year and enjoying it, taking each practice one at a time and soaking it all in, because come February, I’ll be retired,” Feeney said.
The women will compete on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Chatham Invitational at Chatham University, and the men will travel to Case Western Reserve University to compete against Case Western and Carnegie Mellon University.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, The Campus reported that Jack Bailey’s time for the 50 free was 21.17. He swam a 21.37. Updated Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, at 5:11 p.m.