Allegheny swim heads into last meet with winning records

The Allegheny Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams started the spring semester with wins against Ohio Wesleyan University and Wooster College on Saturday, Jan. 18, in Wooster, Ohio.

The women’s team won 233-54 over Ohio Wesleyan and 163-131 over Wooster. The men’s team defeated the same opponents 167-112 and 147-144 respectively.

On the season, the men’s team sits at 4-2 heading into their last meet, and the women’s team remains undefeated at 6-0.

Under Head Coach Max Niggel, the Gators have improved in each of his first two seasons leading the team.

“The program has subjectively improved as far as our win-loss record and our standing in the conference,” Niggel said. “I don’t put that as the foremost measure of a program’s success. I think our culture and atmosphere have improved. I try to run it like a family instead of just being results oriented. I think the results come from that. I look at the individuals and how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, and I judge our success off of that.”

The Gators have been led throughout the season by their 12 combined seniors, eight on the women’s team and four on the men’s. Maddie Janvrin, ’20, said the team’s success is a result of their connectedness and teamwork.

“We’ve been having really good momentum,” Janvrin said. “The team is really unified. A lot of the women’s team was nervous heading into the meet (against Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan). We were high energy, but we were cautious because we didn’t know what to expect or how we would do. Once we got in the pool, we all came together and said, ‘We got this. It’s go time.’ We really got up for each other.”

Logan Indest, ’21, attributed the team’s success to a familiarity with Niggel after a late start to his coaching tenure last season.

“The second year with (Niggel) helps a lot,” Indest said. “Last year we didn’t have a coach until the week before the season started.”

The Gators do not lack leadership between their veteran swimmers and established head coach. The team will look to compete for improved results within the conference as the season comes to a close, and the team has multiple chances to break school record times, according to Niggel.

According to Niggel, the unity and leadership exhibited by the team have come through team building activities and workouts. This includes the team’s trip to Puerto Rico from Dec. 31, 2019, to Jan. 8, 2020. While in Puerto Rico, the team worked out in an Olympic-size pool and on the beach and had off days to bond, according to Janvrin.

“It was super fun,” Janvrin said. “We did beach workout and beach runs, tons of abs and core (workouts) on the beach. The workouts were really hard, but you’re looking at this beautiful view and the waves are crashing. Being in Puerto Rico gave (the workouts) such a positive energy.”

The Gators traveled to Florida and Arizona for winter training over the past two seasons, according to Indest. Niggel said the yearly trip is necessary for the team’s workouts heading into the end of the season, but the change of scenery helps to keep the swimmers motivated.

At 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 7, the morning before the team’s departure, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Puerto Rico, according to the United States Geological Survey.

“It was a little unsettling to get woken up by an earthquake, but the team was safe, and that’s really what matters,” Indest said. “It was a little freaky. I was already awake, but other people described it as someone shaking the bed.”

Niggel said that he cancelled the team’s final three practices and advised the team to remain at the hotel. Some team members had previous experience with earthquakes and were able to reassure teammates like Janvrin and Indest who had not encountered them.

Indest said that although the Gators were startled by the earthquake, they were able to rally around one another for support heading into the remainder of the season.

“In a lot of respects, it brought the team closer together,” Indest said. “Misery loves company. Now that we’ve been through this, it builds confidence. At least for me, I’ve been through all this with the trip, and I have confidence that I can make it through whatever race is next.”

Niggel also noted that the team was able to stay positive and unified during the earthquake. He said that the team’s shared struggle will help to motivate them as a team moving into their conference championship meet.

“We were able to adapt, refocus and get over that,” Niggel said. “Now we can use that as adversity that we went through, and adversity makes you stronger. I think it will pull us all together, and it will be a story that they tell their kids and grandchildren, and we got past it.”

The team will have its senior meet and final home meet of the season at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, in the Mellon Pool against Fredonia College. The team will then move on to the North Coast Athletic Conference championships at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, from Wednesday, Feb. 12, through Saturday, Feb. 15.

The Men’s team will look to finish the season 5-2 and the Women’s team will attempt to go undefeated for the season on Saturday.

“Next week we have our senior meet,” Janvrin said. “We’re slated to win that one, so we should go completely undefeated and it’s super exciting. It’s going to be a bittersweet meet, but I think we’re ready for it as a team.”