Despite a more than a month hiatus, the UConn swim and dive team had no trouble shaking off rust on its first double-match weekend since the start of the season, beating both teams. On Friday, the Huskies faced off against a strong University of Rhode Island team, beating them 190-105, then followed that up with another strong win against Seton Hall University 167-128.
First we have to talk about their astonishing win over the Rhode Island Rams. In a 16 event match, it took until event 15 for Rhode Island to finally beat UConn from first place. Dominance may not be strong enough for what happened at this event: I would call it dominance, as the Huskies went way above their competition and took full advantage of their superiority. The UConn women kept Rhode Island at bay and easily kept them at arm’s length all afternoon.
Sophomore Niamh Hofland led the charge and put in a pretty extraordinary performance. First, she won the 1000m freestyle – a tiring, grueling event. She then recovered quickly enough to win the next race – the 200m free. Finally, she put the icing on the cake with a victory in the 200-meter backstroke. Hofland’s triumph shouldn’t stop us from talking about some other Huskies, though.
Although UConn won a large majority of the events, they only won two: the 100m backstroke thanks to senior Catherine Fazio, junior Caitlin Spencer and sophomore Kayla Mendonca respectively; and the 100m butterfly, courtesy of juniors Charlotte Proceller, Mia Galat and Anna Wenman respectively.
Now, the Seton Hall is coming together. This was much less of a domination, but still a great overall performance from the women. The dive team, made up of sophomore Analaura Faoro, freshman Julia Pioso and senior Maria Wilkins, were fantastic in both the 1-meter and 3-meter dive events. Faoro won the former and Pioso won the latter. The team also had a few podium sweeps of its own. The first was the 100m backstroke, with regular suspects Mendonca and Fazio taking the gold and bronze, while freshman Maggie Donlevy took the silver. Then was the 200-meter breaststroke, with sophomore Angela Gambardella, senior Katelyn Walsh and freshman Amelia Schafer finishing in that order. To top it off, Mendonca took home first place in the 200m backstroke, while Hofland took home gold for the second day in a row in the 1000m freestyle.
The brightest star of the weekend was Niamh Hofland. She put in a lot of hard work all weekend and it showed in the form of four first places, which put the competition in a tie. She swam extremely effectively and carried her pace through Friday and Saturday. However, a close second would have to be the dive team (Faoro, Pioso and Wilkins) as they cleaned the house on Saturday and put on a good show on Friday, taking three of the top four against a very competitive URI dive crew.
This was a big confidence-building weekend for UConn. These two additional wins should feel good, not only because they came after a long hiatus, but also because they cement the Huskies’ winning record against Big East opponents of the season and put them at the top tier of swim teams in the Big East. East places. But for now, the team hopes to continue their victories as their focus shifts to the University of New Hampshire, which they face this coming weekend.