After a long and relaxing winter break, the UConn swimming and diving team achieved a resounding win over their second Big East opponent of the year in Seton Hall University. The Huskies came into the meet firing on all cylinders, more than ready to swim after their long hiatus, and it showed in a day that was filled with dominance.
The Saturday meeting between the two conference rivals started with a 200 yard medley relay, in which Kayla Mendonca, Angela Gambardella, Charlotte Proceller and Maggie Donlevy (the four who could be argued to be UConn’s best swimmers) cruised to a victory, setting the tone for the day. That was followed by another wide margin of victory thanks to Niamh Hofland, who has been hitting her stride with long-distance swimming all season. With a gold from Mia Galat in the 200 yard freestyle and another from Mendonca in the 100 yard backstroke, UConn had announced their presence at this meet loud and clear, and it would take a tremendous effort for the Pirates to catch up. Four up, four wins in Connecticut’s hand and twelve events left.
The snowball effect continued, and it seemed like the Huskies just could not lose. Gambardella took top spot in the 100 yard breaststroke and rookie Lexi Martino took the 200 yard butterfly comfortably. It took until the seventh event for the Seton Hall Pirates to take their first victory of the day, as Cornelia Jerresand edged out UConn’s Ella Epes by a little more than two tenths of a second in the 50 yard freestyle. Soon after, the swimmers took a short break to allow the divers to take over the pool, and the UConn women did not disappoint: Julia Pioso, Ana Laura Faoro and Darah Ostrom swept the podium in the 3 meter dive, bringing the Huskies to the halfway point with the momentum back on their side.
Despite being down by quite a few points, Seton Hall did not back down, taking first off the back of some great swimming by Natalie Heim in the 100 yard freestyle. Regardless, the Huskies still grabbed second, third and fourth place, minimizing the point deficit for that round. Right after that tough, close loss in the 100 yard free, UConn went on a tear that would effectively seal the day. Robin Edwards and Mendonca took spots one and two on the podium, respectively, in the 200 yard backstroke. Then, Kiera Liesinger and Gambardella would themselves take one and two, respectively, in the 200 yard breaststroke. Hofland would take yet another long distance freestyle victory, winning gold in the 500 yard freestyle, and Epes and Galat put the final touches on this win for UConn, grabbing the two top podium spots in the 100 yard butterfly.
The day was full of great swimming for the Huskies, as they thoroughly outclassed the Pirates in nearly every race. Going 5-0 to start the season certainly has to feel nice for this team, and they’ll be looking to continue this streak of winning as twhey prepare for their next match against Central Connecticut State University at home in Storrs’ Wolff-Zackin Natatorium.