The Colonials didn’t want to take the pool with the weight of recent success on their backs.
The last time GW exited competition, it did so with a strong performance at the Patriot Invitational. And after Thanksgiving break and a week of hard training, the Colonials returned to the Smith Center Saturday afternoon for a dual meet against Old Dominion feeling somewhat nervous about how their performance would compare to their last meet.
“The main focus was probably to finish up the semester on a good note,” head coach Dan Rhinehart said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge, because we had such a phenomenal meet at [the] Patriot [Invitational] at George Mason before Thanksgiving, and to come back and do something at the same level in such a short amount of time in our sport is real, real difficult.”
The men’s team shook off any rust left over from the extended break in competition, besting ODU 157-105.
The Colonials were lead by junior Phillip Graeter, who posted first place finishes in the 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley.
“Dual meets just come down to racing the guy next to you,” Graeter said. “Just race hard, finish strong and beat the guy next to you.”
Junior Luke Quimby and freshman Garrett Cottingham both had two first place finishes and senior Marshall Seedorff also won the 50-yard freestyle.
Freshman Adam Rabe, sophomore Niccolo Wilson and junior Steve Nelson earned points for the Colonials with two second-place finishes apiece.
“The time after Thanksgiving is always pretty rough because everybody is focusing on finals and we only have two and a half weeks before we go home, so it’s hard to get into the practice routine again, but we all did really well,” Graeter said.
The women’s team also performed well, but ultimately dropped the meet to ODU 140-119 after falling behind at the beginning of the competition.
Sophomore Lindsay Moore helped pace the Colonials, snagging first place finishes in both the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Janica Lee had two first-place finishes as well, in both the 200-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley.
Despite the loss, Lee was impressed with her team’s performance, pointing out that GW continued to improve its performance as the meet progressed.
“I think we did really well as a team. After the first half of the meet, we were sort of trailing behind, and coach said, ‘We’re 20 points behind,’ and after that, everyone stepped up their races and we started winning events,” Lee said.
Sophomore Caroline Myers ended the meet with two second-place finishes and a third-place finish. Sophomore sisters Sloan Saunders and Sydney Saunders also finished second and third, respectively, in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races.
The Colonials now look forward to their next meet, an Atlantic 10 Conference match in Rhode Island Jan. 13 and 14. It’s a good preview for another competition already on the team’s radar – the Atlantic 10 Championships slated for late February.
Rhinehart said that one of the main challenges the team faces is learning to swim fast when they are tired. They will rest before the A-10 Championships, he said, but dual meets are good for conditioning and training the Colonials to fight through fatigue.
“As I’ve told them before,” Rhinehart said, “If you’re not willing to get up and go after it when you’re tired, you don’t deserve to go faster when it’s easy.”