After a tough year of tournaments, Vassar College’s swimming and diving teams ended their season in style at the Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association (UNYSCSA) championships. Women’s swimming and diving maintained their ninth place standing in a field of 15 schools. Men’s swimming and diving finished in 10th place out of 15, and multiple individual players broke personal lifetime and school records for their respective events, making for an impressive finish for the two teams. The UNYSCSA championships were held over the span of four days at Ithaca College from February 20-24.
Junior Even Einstein commented on the tournament as a whole. “Ithaca ran the meet very smoothly,” stated Einstein. “[T]he team used each other for personal inspiration, and many of us went lifetime bests and broke records. UNYSCSA Championships always has an intense vibe, but our team energy cuts through the vibe and turns it into excitement and positivity.”
Strong performances from Vassar students graced each day of the tournament. On day one, sophomore Luc Amodio broke one of the oldest Vassar swimming records by swimming a 21.30 in the 50-yard race. Amodio also contributed to the new school record for the 200 relay, along with senior Mathue Duhaney, sophomore Matt Weiss and freshman Greg Cristina. On the women’s side, senior Shannon Sara broke the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:11.11.
Day two saw even more lifetime bests. The relay team of Amodio, Duhaney, Weiss and Cristina improved on their already record setting time, finishing with 1:26.44 at the 200 relay. Amodio swam a lifetime best during the anchor leg of that race, with a time of 20.9. Freshman Milee Nelson swam a lifetime best during the backstroke leg of the 400 IM with a time of 1:02.29. Sara continued to amaze on the women’s side, breaking another school record in the 400 IM with a time of 4:40.69 in the prelims and a seventh place finish in the finals. She had a lifetime best during the backstroke leg of the race, with a time of 1:08.21. Sara provided insight into her thoughts on her success. “For me, there is no better feeling in the world than having your whole team behind your lane at the start of a race, especially a long race like the 400 IM,” Sara wrote in an emailed statement. “They were there at every turn cheering me on. After I finished my preliminary swim, I had no idea what time I had gone, all I could see was my teammates going crazy. Nothing can ever compare to the feeling of having your whole team cheering for you.”
The third day for the men’s side was not the strongest. The team fell two places to 11th place overall for the tournament. The women kept the strong performances up, however, with four lifetime bests in the 100 backstroke coming from Nelson (1:02.44), sophomore Liz Balter (1:04.97), sophomore Juliana Struve (1:11.21) and freshman Anna Kuo (1:13.72). Sophomore diver Jane Cardona finished with a seventh pace finish and a score of 394.10 in the 1-meter board dive, bettering her performance during the prelims. Sophomore Kelly Wilkinson followed in eighth place.
The final day of the tournament was the most impressive on both sides. The men improved their standing, finishing in 10th place overall. Amodio finished in 15th place during the 200 breaststroke, getting a season best time of 2:14.15. Freshman Isaiah Hale achieved a lifetime best in the same event with a time of 2:17.97. For the 100 freestyle, Duhaney broke a school record with a time of 47.95, while juniors Evan Einstein (53.99) and Cristina (48.61) both achieved lifetime bests. In total, the men’s swimming team broke five Vasar records at the Ithaca tournament. The women maintained their ninth place position. Cardana scored an NCAA qualifying score in the 1-meter event with a 394.10. She will now go to the NCAA Regional Diving Selection Meet at Springfield College on March 1-2. Sara broke a Vassar record with her time of 2:27.81 in the 200-yard breaststroke, while Struve got a lifetime best of 2:36.04. Freshman Marie Schmidt attained two lifetime bests in the 1,650 yard freestyle (18:34.11) and the 200 backstroke (2:16.20). Sara also surpassed the previous 100-breaststroke time with a time of 1:08.64. This tournament marked the season’s end for the team.
Sara was proud of her team’s performance at the championships. “Watching Mathue swim the final leg of the 400-freestyle relay was a serious highlight of States,” Sara expressed. “Mathue always gives it his all, and after he touched out Skidmore the entire team erupted. That’s what VCSD is all about. It was awesome.”
Duhaney, who will be leaving the Vassar swimming and diving team, exceeded his expectations for the tournament. “I went into the meet, with the same goals I’ve had for the past four years,” described Duhaney. “I wanted to break the 18-year-old 50 free record. My teammate and I managed to break the previously set bar of 21.52 several times over the course of the meet. Each time I did that, I gave myself a figurative pat on the back, because this has been eluding me for years and here I was breaking this barrier over and over again in one meet.”
During her last year at Vassar, Sara was especially proud of her team’s overall performance during the season. “We had an amazing season this year! Despite our small size, we are a team in every sense of the word. We believe in each other, push each other to be better and support each other through good and bad swims/dives. Our hard work and team spirit showed all season, but was especially strong at States. We killed it. I have never been more proud to be a part of Vassar swimming and diving.”