The UConn women’s swimming and diving team got off to a bit of a slow start into the Bucknell Invitational and couldn’t seem to get ahead the entire weekend. For context, this meet brought together not only the Huskies and Bucknell University, but also Fordham (4-0), La Salle (2-1-1), Davidson (2-4), Delaware (5-0-1), Bloomsburg (4-2) and Rider (0-5). Looking at these records, it’s understandable to see why the Huskies finished in fourth place in the tournament. Thus far into the season, UConn faced their toughest competition yet.
In Friday’s meet, the Bison took gold with a whopping 401 points, which was good enough to beat second-place Fordham by a gap of 83 points. Not only did the Bison dominate, but they set records in doing so. A new school record of 1:32.97 in the 200 freestyle relay was set on Friday by swimmers Jennifer Bolden, Sophia Donati, Alexandra Rirorto, and Esme Hunter. Unfortunately for them, that was only good enough for second place to La Salle, losing by a decisive .42 seconds.
An interesting storyline that also took place in the meet was in the 500 freestyle between UConn’s Niamh Hofland and Bucknell’s Sabrina Vumbacco. Hofland touched the wall and beat out Vumbacco by less than one-tenth of a second, which goes to show no matter what the scoreboard says, the Huskies wouldn’t go down without a fight.
In Saturday’s meet, it was still all Bisons, as they extended their lead to 896 points over the rest of the pack. Despite the Huskies having little-to-no chance to salvage victory, there were some positive things to look back on for the weekend. The women placed top 5 in finals events for six of the eight events they competed in, meaning that they were very close to pulling ahead to as close as third place. While the Huskies had been losing thus far, they hadn’t been by much. In the 100-yard breaststroke, Husky swimmer Angela Gambardella narrowly lost out on a first-place finish to Ram Ainhoa Martin by a time of 0.13 seconds. The blink of an eye was the difference of four points in this event, meaning that the Huskies were in it to the very end. These close second place finishes for the team is the reason why they had yet to advance anywhere on the scoreboard thus far.
Sunday was the same story for the Huskies, as they narrowly lost out in winning events outright by narrow margins. In the 200-yard breaststroke, UConn’s Cambardella lost out to Fordham’s Martin for the second day in a row, this time by a margin of 0.15 seconds. Despite this, the Huskies had success in the 200-yard backstroke, with Husky swimmer Robyn Edwards taking the gold and Kayla Mendonca taking second by a margin of 2.13 seconds.
After three days of hard fought competition, Bucknell won the three-day event with an impressive score of 1,312 points, with Fordham in second place with 1,151.50 points. In third place was Delaware with 1,101.50 points and behind them was UConn with 1,055.50 points. Behind the Huskies was La Salle with 984 points and Davidson close by with 936.50 points. In seventh and eighth place are Bloomsburg and Rider with 266 and 94 points, respectively.
Fortunately for the Huskies, they have looked incredible this season, boasting a 5-0 record. This meet will not negatively impact them too harshly, as they have gotten off to a red-hot start. UConn will hope to rebound after this meet facing fellow Big East rival Seton Hall (2-3). This meet will happen on January 14th at 3 p.m. at the Wolff-Zackin Natatorium in Storrs.