Building on an impressive season, men’s and women’s swimming and diving both placed first at the Atlantic 10 Championships this past weekend.
The men’s team collected 879.5 points over the four-day tournament to win their second consecutive A-10 title and their fifth in six years while the women’s squad scored 701.5 points to win their second title in three years. With the two victories, the Colonials are the first program with a title sweep since Massachusetts in 2001.
“I don’t know if the meet itself surprised me, other than how exceptionally we performed in the water,” Head Coach Brian Thomas said. “I thought we would win. You know, going into it, having scored it out, I thought we would win if we just did what we’re capable of doing.”
Thomas was named Coach of the Year for the second straight year and the third time in four years.
Senior Marek Osina led the men’s team, winning seven gold medals and the Most Outstanding Performer award.
He set an A-10 record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:44.72 and won his third individual gold in the 200 back. The Czech Republic native built upon his four gold medals from last year’s A-10 Championship for a total of 13 medals, 12 of which are gold.
Freshman Connor Rogers picked up the Most Outstanding Rookie Performer award after earning gold in the 500 free with a time of 4:24.11 and a bronze in the 200 fly.
Senior Ryan Patterson said the championship was the first A-10 for “almost half the team” and said the seniors used it as an opportunity to help the younger members in their development.
“I think that the most important part of the senior leaders right now is being able to teach those younger ones who have the speed how to be emotionally invested in a meet and still be able to calm it down,” Patterson said.
Freshman Philip Moldovanu, sophomore Durde Matic and sophomore Karol Mlynarczyk collected individual wins. Mlynarczyk finished the 100 back with a time of 47.46 seconds for his third gold of the meet.
Matic set an A-10 record in the 50 free with a time of 19.56 seconds. He also set a meet record in the 100 fly, finishing the weekend with six gold medals and seven overall.
The men’s 200 medley relay team of Osina, junior Tyler Kawakami, Matic and Mlynarczyk set a conference record with a time of 1:25.78. The men’s squad collected gold in all five relay events.
“One thing I always think about is, ‘Let’s just put the odds in our favor,’” Thomas said. “If we continue to put the odds in our favor of having success, it will come.”
On the women’s side, senior Erin McCarthy won gold in the 500 free with a time of 4:48.47, knocking almost three seconds off her personal best. She also collected gold in 1,650 free, finishing the weekend with three medals total.
Freshman Molly Smyers, freshman Julia Knox and freshman Barbara Schaal also collected multiple individual medals. Knox set a new program record in both the 200 individual medley and the 400 individual medley.
The women’s relay teams medaled in all five events. The 400 medley relay team of sophomore Marlee Rickert, freshman Ava DeAngelis, Schaal and Knox set a new program record with a time of 3:40.52.
“We’re just really, really deep on the women’s side,” Thomas said. “And that’s probably the way to win that conference is to have good depth basically in each event – especially with a conference that has eleven teams in it.”
Senior Isabel Berdecio, who was a part of the women’s last conference championship, said it was an emotional moment for her to win again in her final year.
“This year, I kind of felt just a lot more proud,” Berdicio said. “And because we had won before, I kind of knew what was coming, but this year, I think, being able to look down at all the other swimmers and see the program that our senior class basically helped Brian build, it was a really proud moment for me.”
Thomas said that the team has built a strong culture through the four years that he has coached the program, and that has been the difference in their success.
“Coming to swim at GW means being a part of a culture that’s bigger than yourself,” Thomas said. “And really you’re joining a family here. And they really bought into that, top to bottom. So it’s been definitely gratifying. And I’m just grateful to be a part of it. It was the kind of season I didn’t want it to come to an end.”
Junior diver Jamie Doak said the “best part” of the meet was how supportive everyone was of each other both during and afterwards.
“Like when the women got called up, the men made sure they were all congratulating us – they made a tunnel for us to run through and everything,” Doak said. “It wasn’t just one team winning and the other team winning it was all of us together.”
This article appeared in the February 24, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.