After a weekend of competition and cramped hotel rooms, Keene State College’s swimming and diving team returned home Sunday night, both bringing impressive accolades back with them.
The New England Intercollegiate Swim and Dive Association (NEISDA) meet took place at Rhode Island College, which hosted teams from 20 different schools in the New England area.
The men’s team finished in first place overall, with the women’s team finishing in second behind Roger Williams University.
During the course of the meet, the men’s team racked up a number of wins in individual races, including Ryan Boraski in the 100 meter IM and the 400 yard freestyle relay and Chris Barriss in the 50 yard backstroke, breaking his own school record in the process. Divers Cody Fitzgerald and Jake Driscoll also earned the top two spots for their performances on the 3-meter dive.
Senior swimmer Greg Youngstrom said that confidence was a factor in the team’s win, but the team would not allow that to overshadow their hard work.
“We weren’t going to go any easier, we weren’t going to hold back,” Youngstrom said.
For the women, Senior Ali Bartlett started the meet off by winning the 50 free event and breaking a pool record set in 1989 by eight-time Olympic gold medalist Jenny Thompson. Bartlett also finished first in the 100 free. Hope Walsh finished off a long 1650 yard free with a first place time of 17:25.34. Walsh’s time qualified her for her first NCAA B-cut and broke the KSC record in the event.
Junior Gabrielle Brzozowski commended her team’s effort during the competition.
“We fought as hard as we could and even though we finished second we all feel like we finished first as a team,” Brzozowski said.
Now, there are five (possibly six) total members of the men’s and women’s teams that will likely be continuing to train for the upcoming NCAA meet in March. The rest of the team will be taking some time off in order to recuperate from a season that started in October.
Interim Head Coach Chris Woolridge said that the meet in Rhode Island was effective in gauging where the swimmers are at leading up to national competition in March.
“For those guys that are going, it’s like a tune-up meet. So we kind of go there and see where we’re at. We’ve got a month to go, so they’ve got some time,” Woolridge said, “It kind of prepares them by showing them what we still need to do and taking the time to work on it.”
Off the pool deck, Woolridge said that he’s been recruiting to rebuild an Owl’s swim team that will be graduating fifteen seniors.
“It’s going to be a tall order,” Woolridge said.
As for the swimmers who will be coming back to KSC next season, Woolridge noted the emerging sophomore class on the women’s team as the one’s that he believes will be stepping into the shoes of those who will have swam their last laps for the team, pointing out the improvements of individuals such as Hope Walsh and Rachel MacKinnon.
Until then, swimmers Bartlett, Youngstrom, Barriss, Cole Hogg and Boraski’s season will likely continue onto the D-III NCAA Championship meet, which begins March 16.
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