The Keene State Women’s Swim season is coming to a close, as they competed in their first qualifying meet of the season on Saturday, Feb. 9, at UMass Dartmouth.
Keene State placed first at the Little East Conference Championship, making it their thirteenth consecutive win and sixteenth overall.
Before competing in Saturday’s meet, senior and captain Katie Brandeberry said she was “looking forward to the meet and to start competing again.”
“I think it’s going to be a great way to finish out the season. It is sort of like the beginning of the end for some of us that are graduating and leaving Keene State,” said Brandeberry.
Brandeberry competed in the 200 meter backstroke on Saturday’s meet.
Head Coach Chris Woolridge said he was “feeling excited and sad” about the end of this season.
Woolridge started his Keene State career in 2015, so losing his first graduating class is “bittersweet,” said Woolridge.
“The good thing about this meet is that it brings the best out of the women’s team. I expect to see a lot of season best and lifetime bests over the course of the meet on Saturday,” Woolridge said.
Comparing each season is not something Coach Woolridge likes to do, being that swim seasons are so long.
“Each season is kind of its own journey. It’s long, starting in September and ending in February or March sometimes,” said Woolridge.
Brandeberry said having the same coach for all four years was great, and that they were all able to grow as a team together.
“It is so crazy, because when he first started he was so different, and I think as we grew up, his coaching style changed, and we all just became one big family,” said Brandeberry.
Brandeberry is a star swimmer on the team, and won multiple LEC athlete of the week titles and accolades.
“I am excited to move on from swimming, it’s going to be really weird to have all the extra free time, but I am looking forward to just [having] to worry about class and that’s it,” Brandeberry said.
When asked if she felt like she accomplished everything she wanted to during these four years, she said “absolutely.”
“I really just wanted to keep dropping time, I didn’t have any specific goal in mind,” said Brandeberry.
Brandeberry placed second in the 200 meter backstroke with a time of 2:11.65 and placed first in the 200 meter freestyle with a time of 1:57.97.
Keene State placed first in the conference championships, winning a total of eight events and 535 points.
Coach Woolridge said one of his biggest challenges this season was having swimmers fulfill some event roles that he had lost due to graduating seniors.
“In swimming, you have a lot of events to fill and you don’t always have a star for every event, so you have to be able to adapt and fit in where the team needs you. It has been a big challenge, but they have stepped it up,” said Woolridge.
Having a lot of LEC honors and first place finishes, picking a most improved swimmer and diver was a challenge. Coach Woolridge said the girls that stood out the most to him this season were first-year Brianna Feldman, Junior Erin Morley and Junior Madison Pechulis.
“Brianna Feldman started as a freshman this year and has already received Rookie DIver of the Week multiple times and other LEC awards, despite having never dove from a 3-meter board” said Woolridge.
According to Keene State Athletics, “Keene State swept the relays. The 200 medley relay of Dickinson, Pechulis, Hayes and Simoneau won with a time of 1:51:55 to open the meet, while the 400 freestyle relay of junior Erin Morley, senior Lauren Arsenault, O’Connor and Brandeberry won in 3:49.74 to close out the 2019 LEC Championships.”
Those who qualified for the NEISDA Championships will travel to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) on Thursday, February 21.
Cailla prisco can be contacted