Freshmen shine in women’s swimming and diving home opener

Media Credit: Andrew Goodman | Senior Staff Photographer

Women's swimming raced to a dominant victory over Rider behind strong rookie performances in the team's home opener Saturday afternoon.

Making a splash in this season’s home opener, women’s swimming and diving built on its strong season start with a decisive win in Saturday’s meet.

After an upset victory last week against UNC-Asheville and Davidson, the Colonials carried their momentum into this weekend’s dominant performance against Rider. GW won all but one event, defeating Rider decisively, 182.50-104.50.

“The girls are a little underestimated, and that’s what we’re feeding off of right now,” junior captain Abigail Fusco said after the meet. “We’re all determined to do well this season and support each other on the way to [the Atlantic 10 Championship].”

Men’s swimming and diving also had a solid day in the pool, but the team was narrowly edged by by the Broncs in a 143.5-140.5 loss.

With this weekend’s victory, the women’s side improved to a 3–1 record in dual meet action for the 2016–2017 campaign.

Freshman Jackie Torrez had a dominant performance at the meet, recording three first-place finishes in the 100-yard butterfly, the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard IM.

Senior Lauren Law also had a standout day, placing second behind Torrez in all three events. The two were neck-and-neck in the 100-fly until Torrez (58.60) out-touched Law (59.31) by less than a second.

After losing seven swimmers who graduated last year, the Colonials are looking for Torrez and ten more new freshmen to step up and compete at a high level.

“[With the large rookie class] we took it upon ourselves as upperclassmen to sort of grab one and pull them with us,” Fusco said. “We’re trying to get everyone on the same page and going forward trying to fight for everything we want.”

Fusco had a strong performance in Saturday’s meet, with first-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke (58.3) and the 200-yard backstroke (2:11.4), and the rookie class seemed to be up to Fusco’s challenge Saturday.

Freshman Lynn Zhang recorded a second-place finish in both the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.88) and the 100-yard freestyle (53.85). In the 200-yard backstroke, freshman Alli Lapps recorded a second-place finish (2:12.75).

After the meet, head coach James Winchester praised the swimmers’ passion and motivation.

“It’s definitely a big change from last year, but our upperclassmen are stepping up and leading the way for [the rookies],” Winchester said. “Our freshmen are growing meet-by-meet, and they’re able to do that by what the upperclassmen are setting them up for.”

Entering his second year as head coach of the swimming and diving program, Winchester said he hopes to maintain the compete level throughout the entire season.

“Our biggest challenge is to take the momentum from a great meet and apply it to our training daily.” Winchester said. “It’s a tough thing in our sport because training goes on for many, many months at a time.”

Winchester emphasized the importance of the team staying dedicated in the pool, weight room and the classroom as the season progresses.

Despite the loss, the men’s squad recorded eight top finishes in the meet, opening with a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley by junior Gustav Hokfelt, seniors Andrea Bolognesi and Ben Fitch and sophomore Alex Auster.

This season, men’s swimming and diving hopes to continue its success from the 2015-2016 campaign, Bolognesi said.

Led by Bolognesi, the program’s first-ever First Team All-American, the Colonials recorded their best finish in the NCAA Championships, with 33rd-place team finish. Individually, Bolognesi placed eighth in the 100-breast.

Motivated by his success last season, Bolognesi’s main goal is to improve upon his performance at the National Championships this year.

“I know it’s not always easy to get better, but that’s the goal.” Bolognesi said. “I’m going back to Italy in a couple of weeks, so that will give me a chance to swim well-rested and see what the projection for this season [is] going to be.”

In the coming weeks, both teams hope to build on Saturday’s meet and maintain a consistent compete level as they get deeper into the season.

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving returns to action at the Charles E. Smith Center Oct. 29 against Howard.

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