By MAGGIE MCCOTTER
From Feb 14-17, all eight teams in the Capital Athletic Conference came together to compete for the top spot at the swim team championships. The University of Mary Washington swim team is, again, the top swim team in the conference because of the win both the men’s and women’s teams received. This puts the women at 29 consecutive CAC championship wins and the men at 19 consecutive CAC championship wins.
This team has gone through many swimmers, and a few coaches, but one thing does not change; their ability to win. With the change of coaching staff this season to Justin Anderson, a UMW alumni and former swimmer, there were questions of continuing the team’s legacy.
The UMW women’s team is now on a nine meet winning streak with losing only one meet at the beginning of the season. The men have won now seven meets, losing one at the beginning of the year and one right before the CAC championship. UMW has already swam against the seven other teams in dual meets during the regular season, but the championship brings all the teams together to see who will come out on top.
Michaela Miller, a senior swimmer majoring in psychology, did not swim in the championships because she is recovering from a concussion. “I [am] helping keep track of my teammates times, cheering them on super loud, and keeping the morale high,” she said before the meet.
She was also extremely confident that the two teams will get another CAC title. “While there was talk about York catching up to us, we definitely proved them wrong during our dual meets. We train very hard all year for this meet and I can’t wait to watch my teammates crush it in the pool,” Miller said.
As she is graduating after this season, Miller has a lot of sentimental feelings about leaving the team. “There is no doubt in my mind that the upcoming seniors will hold down the team,” she said. “They are more than capable of a leadership that will grow us as athletes and individuals. I am so grateful that I got the chance to be a part of this program and I am excited to watch what they do in the coming years.”
Justin Anderson, alumni of UMW and current head coach of the team, shares Miller’s same beliefs. “Our strategy revolves around doing what puts the team in the best position to win. All of our focus throughout the season is on the individual swimmers being physically and mentally prepped for the CAC championship. Everything is built around this meet.”
Anderson has his fair share of experience because of his background as a UMW swimmer. “I’ve been exposed to the last three coaches, who make up the past 20 years of the swim team at UMW because of my time here as a swimmer, so I definitely was able to watch and learn to continue the success of the team. The opportunity I had to work with all of them as a student and a coach has allowed me to mesh all of our strategies together to do what is best for the team.”
Regarding the winning streak, Anderson feels no real pressure from the team or the athletic department. “I put more pressure on myself because I’m an alum and I was a part of this program. So many people came before me to lay down the foundation of this team and created a blueprint that we just need to follow to be successful. We start with the small things and then continue to build on those to be as successful as we’re capable of being.”
Megan Carney, a sophomore majoring in geography, is a second year swimmer and swam three events, 200 Individual Medley, 100 Breaststroke, and 200 Breaststroke, at championships.
“Our biggest competitor is York College. Their team carries a lot of depth and talent, but we do too so I think that brings lots of opportunities for great racing,” said Carney.
Beth Kelly, another second year swimmer majoring in psycholinguistics, feels some of the same emotions Carney and Miller shared.
“I am most nervous about messing up on my start or ripping my kneeskin,” said Kelly before the meet. Kelly swam the 100 Backstroke, 200 Backstroke, and 400 Individual Medley, and her biggest competition is beating her personal best times.
“Mentally I have made sure to stay on top of my school work, no procrastinating, and taking time for myself to relax. I am physically prepared from our taper that we’ve done over the past few weeks.” She doesn’t feel a lot of pressure for keeping the women’s team’s streak going and, “our goal as a team is to perform the best of our abilities; winning is just icing on top of the cake.”
The CAC championship is the second biggest event the UMW swim team will attend this season. With two winning records and a legacy of winning, the program was a top competitor against the seven other schools and truly showed up by winning both the men’s and women’s categories. The final meet of the season will be the NCAA Division III Championships from March 20-23 in Greensboro, NC.