Despite a break of over a month, the UConn swimming and diving team had no issues shaking off rust at its first double-meet weekend since the beginning of the season, conquering both teams it faced. On Friday, the Huskies faced a strong University of Rhode Island team on the road, defeating them 190-105, and followed that with another strong win against Seton Hall University 167-128.
First, we must talk about their stupendous triumph over the Rhode Island Rams. In a meet that had 16 events, it took until event 15 for Rhode Island to finally knock UConn off the top spot. Domination may not be strong enough a word for what occurred during this event: I would call it ascendancy, as the Huskies rose well above their competition and took full advantage of their superiority. The UConn women kept Rhode Island at a distance, easily keeping them at an arm’s length the whole afternoon.
Sophomore Niamh Hofland led the charge, putting up quite the extraordinary performance. First, she won the 1000-yard freestyle — a tiresome, grueling event. Then, she recovered quickly enough to win the very next race — the 200-yard free. Finally, she put the cherry on top with a victory in the 200-yard backstroke. Hofland’s triumph shouldn’t stop us from talking about some other Huskies, though.
While UConn won a large majority of events, they only swept two: the 100-yard backstroke thanks to senior Catherine Fazio, junior Caitlin Spencer and sophomore Kayla Mendonca, respectively; and the 100 yard butterfly, courtesy of juniors Charlotte Proceller, Mia Galat and Anna Wenman, respectively.
Now, the Seton Hall meet. This was much less of a domination, but still a great overall showing from the women. The diving team, comprised of sophomore Analaura Faoro, freshman Julia Pioso and senior Maria Wilkins, was fantastic, sweeping both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events. Faoro won the former and Pioso won the latter. The team also had a couple podium sweeps of their own. First was the 100-yard backstroke, with regular suspects Mendonca and Fazio taking the gold and bronze, while freshman Maggie Donlevy took the silver. Then was the 200-yard breaststroke, with sophomore Angela Gambardella, senior Katelyn Walsh and freshman Amelia Schafer finishing in that order. To top off the day, Mendonca won herself the top spot in the 200-yard backstroke, while Hofland took home the gold in the 1000-yard freestyle for the second day in a row.
The brightest star of the weekend was Niamh Hofland. She worked hard all weekend and it showed in the form of four first-place finishes, killing the competition. She swam extremely effectively and carried her momentum through Friday and Saturday. A close second, though, would have to be the diving team (Faoro, Pioso and Wilkins), as they cleaned house on Saturday and had a good showing on Friday, taking three of the top four spots against a very competitive URI diving squad.
This was a big confidence-boosting weekend for UConn. These two extra wins have to feel good, not only because they came after a long hiatus, but also because they cement the Huskies’ winning record against Big East opponents on the season and place them among the upper tier of swim teams in the Big East. But for now, the team hopes to continue their wins as their focus shifts to the University of New Hampshire, which they face next weekend.