The Ursinus College Swim Team completed its season on Feb. 24 with the conclusion of Centennial Conference Championships at Gettysburg College.
The women’s team maintained CC supremacy by coasting their way to their sixth consecutive championship.
Members of the team were, of course, very proud of the their accomplishment.
“Being a part of the team as we won our 6th consecutive conference championship was such an exhilarating feeling. It was a lot of fun to be a part of a team that absolutely dominated in every event. As a senior, I couldn’t think of a better way to end my swimming career,” senior co captain Katie Madden said.
Sophomore Gabi Howell said, “It was a ton of fun. The championship meet is such high energy, and watching my teammates destroy conference records and best times for four days pushed me to swim my hardest, which ultimately led to our success this season.”
Ursinus will send a program- record six swimmers to the national competition in Greensboro, N.C. from Mar. 20-23.
Those six: Seniors Clara Baker and Peyten Lyons, junior Haley Sturla, sophomore Sophie May, and first-years Katie Schultz and Sophie Lear. Lear was named Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie at the conference championship meet after winning the 50 free, 100 free and 100 breast while also contributing to four first-place relays.
Sturla, making her debut at the national competition, is excited to participate.
“Honestly I am so excited to be a part of this experience with these girls. The group of girls that are going are extremely motivated, positive and fun! To me, it’s surreal and I’m just trying to soak it all in,” Sturla said.
The men finished in fourth place in the conference, just 15 points behind third-place Franklin & Marshall College in a very strong overall performance.
They backpedaled their way into a fifth-place finish at champs a year ago, so the strong performance, despite only finishing one place better within the conference, showed a mark of improvement.
There are a few different things to which the members of the men’s team attributed their improvement this season, since they also were tied for second in the CC during the regular season.
Senior Johnny Myers said, “Most of our improvements came from changing the team mentality. We knew it was unacceptable to get fifth place this year, and we had a more competitive attitude going into Champs.”
“Most of our improvements came from changing the team mentality. We knew it was unacceptable to get fifth place this year, and we had a more competitive attitude going in to Champs.”
—Johnny Myers Class of 2019
Senior Dan Becker added, “[Head] coach [Mark] Feinberg brought in a group of incredibly talented freshmen and the revamped training program took the team to the next level. Our senior leadership, especially from our Men’s team captains, also helped to get our team in the right mindset for the season.”
First-year swimmer Matt Snyder was of course not with the team a year ago as he was still in high school, but he believed there was an added emphasis on team camaraderie this year.
“Not only did we work incredibly hard at every practice, but we had each other’s backs and were friends outside of swimming as well. I wanted to swim well in meets and at championships not only for myself, but so I can help the team in the best way that I could. I think being on a team where each person cares about each other and the team, success will inevitably follow,” Snyder said.
Both teams faced several challenges along the way this year. The women, especially, lost several key seniors to graduation a year ago and had to work hard to replace their production.
Madden said, “I think that one of the biggest challenges the women’s team faced this season was replacing the five seniors that graduated last year. The five of them alone contributed to over 150 points at our Centennial Conference Championship meet, were a large part of our championship winning relays, and [several] even competed at Nationals last year.”
The women’s team is also slat- ed to lose a very large and strong senior class after the season. They will lose Baker and Lyons, two of the best swimmers in the history of the CC, but their other seniors – Madden, Kathy Longenecker, Caroline Powell, and Gabriela Timuscuk – are consistently strong performers and scorers for the team. Knowing that they will be gone was a thought that remained in the back of their minds, to some degree.
Sturla said, “I think the biggest challenge this season was knowing that the seniors are leaving. They are such an amazing group of girls and we are going to miss them so much!”
There were also several injuries that had to be worked around as the season progressed, whether little bumps and bruises that had to be managed along the way or substantial injuries.
“I think being on a team where each person cares about each other and the team, success will inevitably follow.”
— Matt Snyder Class of 2022
“Avoiding injury and illness and maintaining team morale throughout the length of a very long season [was difficult for us],” Becker said, who had to miss the team’s training trip to Florida because of an injured shoulder over winter break.
Both teams have a lot to be proud of after overcoming a multitude of challenges and being able to perform very well at champs.
“This season was one of my favorites in recent memory and I’m sad that it’s over. I improved a lot in the pool and made some lifelong friends, so I can only look forward to next season to see what experiences this sport will bring me next,” Snyder said.
Becker said, “I am very proud of what our team accomplished. It may not look like much, but our fourth place finish was the result of an inconceivable amount of hard work, grit, and spirit. Our men left it all in the pool. We gave it everything we had and we had a fantastic season. It is bittersweet to know my career as a competitive swimmer is over but it was a real treasure to end it with the guys that I did.”