Swimming & Diving Teams Win NEISDA Championship

Joseph Carosi

Herald Reporter

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Photo courtesy of Kayla Ebner

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams competed in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) tournament this past weekend and came home very happy as they both finished in first place.

The men’s team has had success this season overall with a big first-place finish at the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) invitational to kick off the season, followed by a big win over rival Keene State College. After these two wins the team started to falter slightly, losing to Bentley University, and finishing in seventh-place at the Gompeii Invitational in early December.

However, the month leading up to the big NEISDA championship meet could be seen as the driving force to the win. To start the month, the team picked up a win over Wesleyan University and placed second at the WPI Sprint Invitational. The possibility to come away with a first-place victory wasn’t out of the equation for Roger Williams, but it wasn’t a guarantee.

Leading the way for the swimming was the veteran, senior David Kitchen, and one of the biggest stories for the Hawks, freshman John Babuka. Kitchen competed in five different events over the weekend and didn’t drop below the top 3 in any of them. His best performances came from the 50-yard freestyle, which he finished in first with a time of 21.93 and the 100-yard breaststroke, which he finished in first with a final time of 57.92.

Babuka competed in three different races over the weekend, and performed well in all of them. Babuka had arguably the two hardest events of any swim meet, the 500-yard freestyle and the 1000-yard freestyle. This didn’t seem to bother Babuka at all as he finished in second-place with a final time of 4:38.54 in the 500-yard free, and finished in first-place with a personal best time of 9:49.12 in the 1000-yard free. On the diving board, sophomore Josh Seabrook performed very well taking home second in both the one-meter and three-meter dives with a score of 343.74 points in the one-meter and 368.40 in the three-meter.

The women’s team performed well throughout the season placing first at the CCC Invitational, followed with another big win over Keene State College. The team had a very similar season to the men’s team, but started to falter in the wintertime. After a placing seventh at the Gompeii Invitational, the team then lost at home to Wesleyan University in a close match. The team started to rebound a bit collecting a win over Eastern Connecticut State University and placed third at the WPI Sprint Invitational. The team definitely showed signs of promise and potential going into the NEISDA championships, and was able to take home the crown.

Senior Andrea Almandoz and junior Mackenzie Webber led the way for the women’s team with some personal best times, and several first-place finishes. Almandoz had a lot of weight on her shoulders as she competed in four events over the weekend. Her best performance came from the 100-yard fly, which she finished in first-place with a time of 57.93. This was Almandoz’s personal best time in this event. Her other standout performance was the 100-yard individual medley (IM). In this event, Almandoz finished in first-place once again with a final time of 59.38, another personal best time.

Webber also had a lot on her shoulders as she competed in three different events over the weekend. Her best performance came from the 50-yard freestyle, which she finished in first-place with a final time of 24.39. She also took the gold in the 50-yard fly with a final time of 25.89. Another star for the women’s team was junior Hannah Nolte. She performed in several relay events and two solo events. Her best performance came from the 50-yard backstroke and 100-yard backstroke. She placed in first for both races with a final time of 27.48 in the 50-yard and 59.66 in the 100-yard.

Both teams will be back in action for the NCAA Championships next month during spring break. Be sure to cheer them on in spirit, as they look to take home another top finish on the season.

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