The Colonials took the pool Friday afternoon determined to start their season strong. Their yellow caps rocketed back and forth across the pool, fighting to emerge victorious among the field of six teams.
Before the pools finally emptied at American University’s Bender Sports Arena, GW would rack up six total first place event finishes in a strong early season showing. Overall, the men’s team finished third and the women’s team second. It was a successful outing, but head coach Dan Rhinehart is already looking ahead to the rest of the season.
“I’m very pleased with how we came out today,” head coach Dan Rhinehart said. “It’s still early, it’s a 26 week-long season, so there is a long way to go.”
The men’s team posted 80 points overall, edged by George Mason and Towson in the final standings. The 200-yard medley relay team, composed of junior Alex Etz, freshman Garret Cottingham, sophomore Niccolo Wilson and senior Marshall Seedorff, finished in first place, posting a time of 1:37:70. Juniors Philip Graeter, Niklas Glenesk and Steve Nelson, along with sophomore Spencer Neff, finished just a half second ahead of Towson in the 800-yard freestyle relay, earning top honors in that race.
GW also posted two second and third place finishes and one fourth, sixth and seventh place finish in the rest of the events. The day was the first chance Rhinehart had to see the team’s rookie members perform, and he said it acted as a good measuring stick of their abilities – and as a chance for the freshmen to experience the demands of collegiate swimming. Conditioning at times seemed to plague the Colonials, who competed well in short distances, but fell out of the lead during longer relays like the 500-yard and 1000-yard freestyle.
“One of the things about college swimming is there is a lot of racing on little rest, and that’s a learning curve our freshmen are going to have to deal with,” Rhinehart said. “I think a lot of them are going home tonight very tired.”
The women’s team posted 86 points overall, finishing second behind Towson. Freshmen Morgan Zebley, Janica Lee and Bianca Valencia, and sophomore Sloan Saunders placed first in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:50:61. GW also earned six second-place finishes, including a half-second finish behind the first place team in the 300-yard butterfly relay, a fourth and two fifth and seventh place finishes.
A strong hallmark of both squads, Rhinehart said, was the leadership displayed on their rosters. The underclassmen stepped up in the first meet of the season, he said, and showed they will be a strong presence in upcoming competitions.
“Everything I’ve seen out of this team tells me they’re willing to work hard to be successful and that’s good,” Rhinehart said.
GW next takes to the pool Oct. 14 in a tri-meet against District-rivals Catholic and American.