Swimming & diving teams recognize seniors

Men’s and women’s teams face Wooster for last home meet


Joseph Tingley

Danny Litwin, ’17, competed in the men’s 200 breaststroke at the meet against The College of Wooster on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Litwin placed second with a time of 2:16.92.

The swimming and diving teams honored seven seniors during their last home meet as Gators on Saturday, Jan. 21. The men’s team won 136-135 over The College of Wooster for the first time since 2013 and the women lost 164-132 to the Fighting Scots.

“I think we did a great job of coming together,” said captain Patrick Hollenbeck, ’17. “Obviously it was a big day for seniors. We’ve waited four years for this. Wooster is a very strong team. My class has never beaten them, and we were down 15 points heading into the last two events and the guys team—we knew what had to happen, and we came together as one and put in a solid effort to pull out a one-point victory.”

Hollenbeck finished third in the men’s 100 backstroke with a time of 59.50 and in the men’s 200 backstroke with a time of 2:09.91.

“We had people stepping up as they start to feel a little better,” said Head Coach Kirk Kumbier. “We’re approaching conference championships and transitioning into the resting phase, so some will feel great right now and some will feel like they’re on a roller coaster. … It’s fun to see individuals start to feel better at this time of year.”

Each year, the team carries on the tradition of juniors writing a poem about the seniors and reading it aloud at the start of the senior meet. This is followed by seniors and their parents walking through a tunnel of teammates arms.

“The team and coaching staff pulls together to make our last home meet really special,” Megan Feeney, ’17, said.

Hollenbeck said hearing the poem and reading the notes from the team is a fun way to see what the underclassmen think of the seniors and the impact they have left on the team.

“This is a really strong senior class. It will be tough to see them go. They’re everything from sprint to stroke to I.M. to mile, so it’s a very diverse group in terms of their events and strengths,” Kumbier said. “It’s hard to say you’re going to replace someone. You just have to find a new group and whatever their strengths are—you have to roll with that and build the new team off the returning strengths and incoming strengths rather than replace the seniors because in some ways they are irreplaceable.”

Hollenbeck said his favorite memories on the team are Florida training trips each January.

“It gives us a great opportunity to bond and they are memories that will last a lifetime,” Hollenbeck said.

Feeney echoed Hollenbeck and said the people on the team are her closest friends and who she will remember.

“At the end of the day, I won’t remember the grueling practices or the number of hours we spent in the pool or the tears that were shed, but the people around you that make it all worthwhile,” Feeney said.

As the team prepares for the conference championship meet, Kumbier has given the team a break from morning practices to allow their bodies to rest.

“They have to keep in mind that everything they did during the Florida training trip and throughout all of first semester and the past several weeks, it’s all on the bank now. And all the hard work—they can draw on that once they’ve rested for conference championships,” Kumbier said.

Going into the last meets of the senior season, Feeney and Hollenbeck said they are looking forward to time with the team and doing their best to achieve their goals for their last season.

“I only have three more meets as a Gator, so at the end of the day I just want to have fun with it and hopefully post good times at the conference meet and the Kenyon meet, but really just enjoy every moment,” Feeney said.

Hollenbeck said he set goals at the beginning of the year to get under two minutes in the men’s 200 backstroke and men’s 200 butterfly.

“Those are going to be my last two events at conferences, and if I can accomplish those two goals, I’ll be very happy. And we have a strong freshman class this year, so we have a chance of moving up in the standings at conferences, and a lot of teams are going to be surprised what we can accomplish,” Hollenbeck said.

The teams will compete at State University of New York at Fredonia on Saturday, Jan. 28, before wrapping up the season at NCAC Championships on Feb. 8 to Feb. 11 at Denison University.