The aquatic center is similar to a second home for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving team here at Roger Williams University. Practicing 20-plus hours a week for 19 weeks, the swim team means business — family business, to be exact.
That is a phrase the team abides by. It is part of the goals that both teams have agreed on and plan to emphasize.
“It came in late to the season but it was epitomizing us,” said Head Coach Matt Emmert, coach of both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. “Family business for us especially since we’re a combined men and women’s program and it is a family of 55. That is family, and when you have a family that big there’s brothers or sisters or cousins that annoy you, but at the end of the day let’s think of the water. That’s where everybody has each other’s backs. We are a family, so I think that really epitomizes who we are and obviously our business, and that is winning.”
The swimmers and Emmert talked about how they love the family atmosphere that comes with the sport. Paul Marchese, senior captain of the men’s team said, “The best part of being on the team is the camaraderie and the respect that you get from others, as well as the competitive level we each practice at every day. We all want to get better and make the marginal games. Each of us get a little better every day.”
The women’s captain, Shantelle Richards, also had some insight on how close the team really is.
“I’d say the best part about being on the team is having such a tight-knit family,” Richards said. “Coming into freshman year, I was completely terrified. I didn’t know anybody. I was terrified and didn’t know who I was going to make friends with, but knowing that I had the swim team to go to for anything, I think that has always been such a nice comfort blanket. We do everything together, we have meals together, we end up living together, just having that family unit is the best part.”
Emmert emphasized that the family atmosphere is one of the best qualities of the team.
“I love it, it never feels like work,” he said. “I have two young girls that I can bring in and they are a part of our family as much as anyone else is. What’s nice with the family too is that you have the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, but you’re always there to get each other the highs. We have a lot of fun together.”
All 55 of the swimmers practice together. By having them do so, it keeps the competitive edge high.
“It’s great. You get to see a different side of people,” Marchese said. “You get to see their competitive edge come out. It really helps the women’s team since they get to race against really good competition, and it helps us push each other to not let them beat us.”
Marchese and Richards both have goals outlined for their teams this season.
According to Marchese, the men’s team goal is to get their first N.C.A.A. appearance, whether it’s individually or in a relay. Last season, the men’s team won the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving championship (NEISDA) and are looking to repeat this year. The team is also seeking to bring as many people to the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) open swimming and diving championships, hosted by Rutgers University in late February of 2018.
Richards also discussed how both the men’s and women’s team have been champions in recent seasons. She pointed out that the women have captured the NEISDA championship the past two years, along with the men’s recent championship last season. She is hoping the women’s team can win NEISDA again for a third year in a row.
With a long season ahead, the Hawks will continue to use their family-type atmosphere to their advantage.