Vassar’s swimming and diving teams, both men’s and women’s, had a impressive winning weekend at the recent meet. Both of the teams pulled off tough wins against rivals Skidmore College in a Liberty League meet on Saturday, Nov. 9. This win marks an important victory for the men’s and women’s team, as it gives them one of their early Liberty League wins during a tough season ahead.
On the women’s side, freshman Julia Cunningham broke an eight-year-old school record in the 200 Yard Butterfly. She swam a 2:08.11 and then followed that with firsts in the 100 Yard Butterfly (1:00.39) and the 200 Yard Individual Medley (2:14.25). For the men’s team, the 400 Yard Freestyle Relay team of sophomores Greg Cristina and Isaiah Hale, junior Luc Amodio and freshman Vincent Palladino swam the race that would claim the victory for the Brewers when they touched finish ahead of the Skidmore A team by 0.88 seconds. Senior John Nguyen took two key third place finishes on both the 1-Meter and 3-Meter diving boards.
Junior swimmer Juliana Struve expressed her happiness with the Skidmore meet and the team’s overall performance this past Saturday. “I think the meet was a great start to our season,” Struve described. “Everyone really stepped up and you could see race after race that everyone was swimming to beat the person next to them. We won a couple of races by less than a second which was really exciting to watch. The men’s 400 yard freestyle relay was particularly exciting because the outcome of the meet all came down to that race. And they pulled it off!”
Sophomore diver Maya Pruitt echoed her teammates sentiments, declaring her excitement with how the team has started off this season. “This season has really just started, but the Skidmore dual meet is definitely the highlight so far,” Pruitt explained. “Both the women and the men won. Watching the last 4×100 men’s freestyle relay was by far my favorite Vassar College Swimming & Diving moment thus far. We were all on the edge of our seats. That race was make it or break it and they pulled it off.”
The two teams did not reach this point without a lot of hard work. Freshman swimmer Kayla Schwab described a typical practice for the swimmers on the two teams. “A typical swim practice consists of a warm-up set, a challenging ‘main’ set, and cool-down to prepare us for the next day of practice,” Schwab said. “We also try to stretch every day after swimming so that we don’t get too sore. Some days, we all focus on the same stroke, while other days, we focus on the stroke that we specialize in.”
On the diving side of things, Pruitt explained the training process and the major differences between swimming practice and diving practice. “Normal practices, at least on the dive side, consist of a lot of dry land drills and lead ups, meaning something that will prepare you for a dive on the board, like an easier version of a dive your attempting, or a jump or an entry,” Pruitt explained. “Diving takes a lot of technique, so we’re always building on top of the skills we’ve already established. There are a lot of smacks, occasional uncontrollable twitching, and even spontaneous fear of heights, but we always get back up, shake it off and try again. Ultimately, its just a lot of fun!”
A lot of what the team has done cannot be accomplished without the coaches, as a lot of the teammates expressed. The swimming and diving teams are coached by head coach Lisl Prater-Lee, assistant coach Daniel Koenig and diving coach Jesus Santos, who is new to the team. “The coaches are vital to the team’s success,” Pruitt declared. “Especially with a sport like diving, feedback and communication is so important to know how to improve. [Santos] has definitely learned our individual processes and quirks. He knows how to explain dives, motivate us to do better, and helps us see the potential within ourselves.”
Schwab expressed her gratification for having two wonderful coaches, as she described them. “[Prater-Lee] and [Koenig] are extremely important to our success,” explained Schwab. “They are so knowledgeable and passionate about swimming, and it really shows in practice and at meets. They have really helped me both with my stroke technique and by challenging me at practice.”
Although the coaches are responsible for a lot of the teams’ improvement, the teammates’ interactions with each other, and their support for one another, is also important to the team’s success, as described by senior swimming captain Evan Einstein.
“Our coaches are vital to our team’s successes. They bring many different pieces of the puzzle together in terms of technique advice, training tips, and preparedness for current races and future races,” Einstein expressed. “Our teammates, however, are also vital. And it makes us a better team when both the team and the coaches are working harmoniously and positively. This is the case at this very moment.”