Takeaways from 2019 Big East Tournament action

Last month, the men’s and women’s swimming teams ended their respective seasons on a high note. The men’s team captured a first-place finish at the Big East Championships while the women’s team secured second place.

For head coach Brent MacDonald, who has been at the helm of both Xavier swimming teams since 2009, the championship victory marked his fourth Big East Championship overall with the Musketeers.

MacDonald mentioned that, while the first Big East Championship men’s swimming notched during the inaugural 2013-2014 season was dominant, the others went down to the wire.

“To have this one be three years in the making, essentially, was pretty rewarding,” MacDonald said. “We enjoyed it a lot … The last couple it seemed like it was more relief that we’d won again versus really elation.”

The men’s side edged out Georgetown, rallying from behind on the final day of the event, and tallied 779.5 points as a squad to take home the hardware.

“This one was very up-and-down,” MacDonald said. “We didn’t go ahead until the last day. We were kind of fighting and clawing back all the way through. It was a fun four days.”

With two very positive results to bookend the 2018-19 swimming season, the Musketeers have remained a consistent contender in the Big East on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Even though the women’s team placed second, it faced a Villanova team that won every single event with only one exception. The final results allowed the Musketeers to reach the goals they had in mind entering this year’s campaign.

“The applause should go to our seniors,” MacDonald said. “Our seniors were very focused, very determined. They had this goal in mind for several years –– for the men to finish first and the women to finish second … They kept our team plugged in every day really from our offseason last year.”

According to MacDonald, Villanova women’s swimming had gone a perfect 26 for 26 in relay wins at the championships since the Big East realignment. The Musketeers became the first to snap that streak.

Given Xavier’s previous success at the Big East Championships, the results weren’t much of a far cry from past seasons. However, Xavier does not field a diving team like some of the other conference opponents do, which makes its success all the more impressive. Xavier had to recoup roughly 140 diving points exclusively through swimming events.

MacDonald noticed that in the previous championship victories, opposing teams fielded fewer divers, but recently the number of divers has increased.

“Now that there were more (divers) it was even more of an obstacle,” he said. “I think we did a great job of not ever focusing on that … We just didn’t let that affect us in any way and decided that when it came to the swimming portion, we were going to do everything we could.”

While the current Xavier facilities are not equipped with a suitable pool to host meets aside from exhibition events, The Heidt Family Champions Center –– which is scheduled to open in 2020 –– will include a competition-sized swimming pool to permit Xavier’s teams to swim on campus.

“We’ve done great things with the people,” MacDonald said. “That will still be a cornerstone of our program, making sure we have the right athletes, the right coaches in the building, and then the building won’t matter.”

The success that Xavier has accomplished throughout its time in the Big East has been awe-inspiring, and hope is on the horizon for next season and beyond.

“I think just to attract a new level, anything we can do for that is going to be a huge help,” MacDonald said. “I think it will certainly matter in recruiting for athletes to know that our locker room space is going to be top-notch. There’s going to be more casual space for our athletes to hang out. Our strength and conditioning is probably going to be right off the pool deck. It’s going to be a neat building for our athletes to walk into and be prideful of each day.”

By: Donnie Menke | Staff Writer