Both men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams cruised past Old Dominion in their final regular-season meet of the year Saturday.
The Colonials defeated the Monarchs 181.5–118.5 and the Lady Monarchs 185–113, claiming first place in 26 of the 32 events and sweeping the podium five times.
Head coach James Winchester said the most important takeaway from the victories was the depth his teams displayed, with eight different individual winners on the men’s side and seven for the women.
“We’ve got a lot of great individuals on our team, but at the end of the day we’re looking for a total team performance,” he said. “We saw a lot of great performances from our swimmers from top to bottom.”
The men’s victory capped off a 6-0 record in head-to-head matches on the season. Senior captain Gustav Hokfelt said he was impressed by this season’s success because of the high expectations set after winning an Atlantic 10 championship last year and losing last year’s top swimmer to graduation.
“As a program, we’ve never worked harder than this year and we’ve never been more broken down during the season,” Hokfelt said. “Even with that we’ve been able to improve a lot faster than they have in previous years.”
Hokfelt captured wins in the 100-yard backstroke (50.39) and the 200-yard medley relay (1:32.53).
“Today’s victory was a great example of how we are as a team,” junior Tommi Wolst said. “We’re cheering for each other and really paying attention to everyone and all the little details.”
Wolst captured two individual first place finishes and swam a leg on the winning 200-yard medley relay team with Hokfelt. Wolst also placed third in the 100-yard back (51.42), behind teammates Hokfelt and sophomore Andrew Cho (51.37).
Prior to the start of the meet, 10 seniors from the men’s and women’s squads were honored as they closed out their swimming careers at the Smith Center. On the men’s side, seniors Hokfelt, Adam Drury, Connor Hart, Clarke Indek, Jarvus Pennington and Aneil Srivastava are all in their last year of eligibility.
“Coming off a big victory where no one really expected us to win last year, we’re even more excited to prove that it’s not a one-time thing,” Hokfelt said. “We’re capable of being a great-performing program every year.”
Winchester, who is in his third year at GW, and Wolst, a transfer from Cleveland State, said the senior class has played a big role in leading the team to its current standing.
“The seniors helped me personally to just get a good feeling of how things are done here,” Wolst said. “I think we all tried our best to make the last meet of the season a great finish for them.”
The women’s team also celebrated its four seniors – Hannah Kopydlowski and captains Abigail Fusco, Selin Ozturk and Iman Lee. Fusco said the team’s culture and pride has shifted significantly since Winchester arrived in Foggy Bottom in 2015.
“It’s weird to say, but when you see how bad things can get it makes you want to be better,” Fusco said. “After our freshman year, I think everyone had a negative attitude toward swimming and then James came to the team and totally changed our mindset.”
Fusco headlined a strong performance by the women’s squad, capturing three individual wins in the 100-yard butterfly and the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races. Freshman diver Gabriella Arendes won both diving events, with Colonials swimmers junior Miranda Simon and freshman Rachel Dickinson following her in the standings for a podium sweep.
“I think that all of the energy and having the senior’s backs really helped motivate us for the meet,” junior Emily Zhang said. “Our four girl seniors were an incredible group of leaders and really helped us in times where we needed to get up and race.”
Zhang captured individual victories in the 200-yard freestyle (1:53.14) and 400-yard individual medley (4:32.26), and swam a leg for the first-place 200-yard medley team (1:49.02).
The Colonials said they will spend the next month gearing up for the A-10 Championships, which will take place in Geneva, Ohio Feb. 14.
For the women’s squad, swimmers said it was their goal to continue working with the same habits and looking to improve the team’s finishes.
“We’re happy we can just focus on training. Now there’s nothing to distract us,” Zhang said. “We’re really focusing these last few weeks on technique and sharpening up so we’re ready to go.”