By: Lauren J. Young~Staff Writer~
The Xavier men’s swim team captured the Big East Championship Title last month in Sewell, N.J. Due to the lack of a diving team, the Muskies started out the competition with an 88 point deficit to Seton Hall and 32 point deficit to Georgetown.
“It’s one of those things where you just have to be confident in your abilities to swim better than them, by that margin,” head coach Brent MacDonald said, who also collected the Big East Men’s Coach of the Year Award.
The men’s team fought back and was able to not only catch up, but completely bypass their opponents.
Senior Chad Thompson raked in six gold medals and an award for himself, Big East Most Outstanding Performer, while also earning All-Big East Honors.
“I certainly wouldn’t use the word ‘surprised,’” MacDonald said in regards to Thompson’s achievements. “He is very competitive, he has a strong, strong desire to win and the work ethic to go with it… he did a phenomenal job.”
Twenty-one other Xavier swimmers also earned All-Big East Honors, including freshmen Erik Biernat, Arthur Smith, Nicholas Strader, Rodrigo Suriano, Abigail Walsh, Ashley Whiteley, sophomores Nick Foster, Knox Hitt, Luke Johanns, Claire Brolsma, Haley Dresner, Molly Kroeger and Mackenna Rife.
Juniors Carter Clark, Eric Dirvin, Michael Gordon, Armando Moss, Will Oswald, Maddie Day and Carolyn Stewart and senior Natalie Hyde also earned the award.
The women’s team finished in third place at the Big East Championships, trailing Villanova and Georgetown.
The team of Walsh, Brolsma, Kroeger and Stewart beat the Xavier record for the 400 freestyle relay with its performance, recording a time of 3:29.30 and securing its place in the top three.
“Our ladies had an incredible challenge on their hands in moving to the Big East … I’m so proud of their perseverance,” MacDonald said.
The Xavier swimmers brought home their first conference title for the swim program and the first Big East conference title for Xavier.
“We didn’t know if we were going to be in that situation, but once we were it was kind of nice to be first, and as our program moves forward and these current athletes turn into alumni. It’s something they’ll be able to hang their hat on for years and years, so it’s pretty exciting,” MacDonald said.
Looking to next season, the loss of seniors Thompson, Hyde, John Kinney, Lynn Brotherton, Courtney Cox and Olivia Wilkes will impact the team, but MacDonald is not worried.
“These last couple years we have had just a great string of strong leaders and I’m very confident in our junior class … that will be seniors next year … the next level is trying to get into the NCAA Championship competition. (However) we’re still very young across the board,” MacDonald said.
The swim team is looking forward to welcoming two committed recruits from Indiana: Alex Wolford and Paxton Drew, who were sold on the strength of Xavier’s team.
“Our team, the reason we’re successful, is the way they came together as a team. It was great chemistry, they enjoyed being around each other and that was so important. They’ve really, the seniors as well, created an environment to succeed. I’m very proud of both of our teams,” MacDonald said.
If this year is any indication, XU swimming will be a contender in the Big East for a long time.