The Saturday afternoon air measured a brisk 23 degrees, but inside Albert G. McCarthy, Jr. Pool at Georgetown University, temperatures soared and tensions flared. GW’s men and women swim teams battled Georgetown Saturday in a backyard brawl, but ultimately came up short.
Coach Dan Rhinehart cited a rash of key injuries, sickness and fatigue as major contributors to the women’s team’s 168-104 loss and men’s 161-110 defeat.
“January is a hellacious month,” Rhinehart said, referring to the demanding workload and heavy competition swimmers face before conference championships in February.
The crowd of supporters, mainly friends and family of the competing swimmers as well as a handful of passionate Georgetown students, spied the events from an overlooking catwalk. Early on, the Hoya fans in attendance had a lot to cheer about.
Out of the gate, Georgetown took the lead, placing first in all four opening heats, the men’s and women’s 400-yard medley relays and 1000-yard freestyles.
The Hoyas caught another break during the 50-yard freestyle when a scoreboard malfunction forced the swimmers, who had already begun the race, to get out of the pool and restart. The scoreboard was quickly fixed, but junior Marshall Seedorff failed to regain his focus.
A referee noticed Seedorff flinch before the starting whistle, and immediately disqualified him from the heat. The disqualification sent Seedorff into a fury, shouting as he stormed away from the pool.
At intermission, Rhinehart smacked his hands together as he and assistant coach Shea Manning sat Seedorff down for a private chat. Seedorff, stunned and distraught, hunched over his stool. He thought he was done for the day, possibly the week.
“I just wanted to make up for my miscue in the 50,” Seedorff said.
Following intermission, Seedorff would get a chance for redemption. Despite his concerns, Seedorff found himself strapping on a pair of goggles for the 100-yard freestyle. Seedorff rewarded his coach’s confidence with a decisive first place finish in 48.41.
After Seedorff’s victory, the Colonials rallied. GW showed strongly in the 200-yard backstroke, with freshman Lindsay Moore finishing second for the women, and freshman Jake Mortensen and sophomore Phillip Graeter finishing first and second, respectively, for the men. Graeter added a first place finish in the 400-yard individual medley and freshman Caroline Myers added two more in the 400-yard medley and 500-yard freestyle.
The Colonials’ surge culminated in the meet’s final event, the men’s 400-yard freestyle relay. GW’s top relay squad – which consists of sophomore Alex Etz, reigning A-10 Rookie Performer of the Week Niccolo Wilson, Seedorff and sophomore Niklas Glenesk – matched Georgetown’s top relay team stroke-for-stroke. The crowd and both benches reached a fever pitch as Glenesk, who swam the anchor leg for the Colonials, tore through the final lap. Silence swept through the cavernous pool house, when he snatched first place by six-hundredths of a second.
“Nik kind of epitomizes the heart of the team,” Rhinehart said. “They have this ‘never say die’ attitude.”
After struggling with fatigue and illness so far this month, the Colonials will face George Mason and Towson in back-to-back meets next weekend before beginning their taper period, when the team will start resting for the Atlantic 10 Championship meet in February. It’s a time during the season that Etz said “is like getting ice cream every day.”
“It takes a lot of guts to get up there and pour your heart out when you just can’t even feel like you can walk straight,” Rhinehart said. “This class right now will go to A-10’s and – they’re healthy, they’re going to rise above what everybody else is thinking about them,” he added.