Swim & dive teams reflect on season-long grind

Megan Julian, Herald Contributor

While most Roger Williams students were enjoying a month-and-a-half winter break, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were on campus practicing long and hard to reach the best they can be to competitively finish the season. 

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams Head Coach Matt Emmert provided some insight on how much of a grind this time of year can be and what he’s looking forward to.

“This part of the season is really tough,” he said. “During intersession this place is a ghost town and the weather is miserable. Our sport in itself is a grind, so I think we have gotten through this struggle and now we are focused on the light at the end of the tunnel which is championships.”

Emmert also reflected on the expectations he set out for all of his swimmers before the season began, stressing that to build a championship team, they must make the proper lifestyle choices.

“Swimming is not a job where you come in and complete your two hours of work,” he said. “It is an all day, everyday process. The athletes have to ask themselves questions such as what am I going to eat at  Commons tonight? They have to prioritize to make sure they get a full eight hours of sleep. The days of coming in for two hours, doing your sport, and leaving are over.”

Senior Andrew Gillie supported the thoughts of his coach, saying that this season, the team has been grinding since preseason to compete at the level they are at now.

“I think as my years have gone on, we have done a lot better coming together as a team and doing what we need to do,” he said. “We hold ourselves accountable for a lot and this season it has been a grind. This has been our hardest season. Especially preseason, we did a lot of work in the beginning of the year.”

Gillie has some goals for himself and his teammates.

“I’d really like to qualify for nationals,” Gillie said. “If not me, I would really like to see my teammates qualify.” 

Last season, the team made All-American and All-Scholastic, and Gillie says he would like the team to accomplish that again. 

“It would be huge for our program,” Gillie said.

Most of all, Gillie is looking forward to nationals and seeing what the team will do when the time comes.

Since the fall semester, the men’s undefeated record has diminished with two blows to Wesleyan University and Babson College in late January. The women, however, have since won only 57 percent of their meets with losses to Wesleyan, Springfield College, and Keene State College.

Looking towards a Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship victory, the men’s team regrouped to switch their mentality to a more postseason competitiveness. Leading the team, junior Josh Seabrook amped his performance to become NEISDA Diver of the Week during the week of Jan. 18. Seabrook was undefeated in all dives that week.

“I am looking forward to seeing what our team can really do once we are rested and well put together as one team at [CCC] championships on the pool deck. It has been a long season so to bring everything together and see what we can finally do will be pretty exciting,” Gillie said. 

During this long season, Gillie has learned some new things.

“I have learned every year coming in when you deal with new people and new classes you will have different types of people coming in,” Gillie said. “I’ve learned to adapt and adjust to every single type of person and athlete that comes into the program.”

Gillie proved this season’s learning curve by dropping his 100-yard individual medley time by 3.91 seconds thus far this season, improving by 5.3 percent. His 200-yard butterfly time also dropped significantly with a 4.8 percent improvement on the 2017-18 season.

Gillie has learned that when you are trying to make a championship team, it takes more than one type of brain to make it. 

That is why he is so thankful for his teammates. He says nothing but good things about them.

“A lot of the underclassmen have really stepped out of their shells and as a team, we are really happy about that,” Gillie said. “Hunter Wronski has been a huge part of our team. He really steps up to the plate when we really need him too.”

Wronski’s 500-yard freestyle time improved to a 4:53.98 second sprint since his high school career.

The men’s and women’s teams head on the road to face Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Saturday, Feb. 3.