Women’s swim team wins conference championship for second year in a row3 min read
EMILY HEMPHILL & EMILY RULE
Sports Editor & Staff Writer
UMW women’s swim team claimed victory once again at the 2023 Metropolitan Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference Championship after the three-day meet in New Brunswick, N.J. The women finished well ahead of the 15 other schools in their division with 1,221 points, and junior Kinsey Brooks earned female Swimmer of the Meet. The men finished with 718.5 points, taking fourth place out of the 13 schools in the conference.
“The meet was a major success for both our women’s and men’s team,” said Head Coach Justin Anderson. “Our teams combined for over 140 lifetime best swims, we had multiple NCAA qualifying performances, and our women’s team won their 32nd straight conference championship title, while our men finished a very strong 4th among 14 teams.”
The women’s team was swimmingly from the start, coming out of day one with a first-place win in the 400-yard medley relay and second place in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Brooks won first in the 200-yard intramural race, and the Eagles had several other top finishes. On the men’s side, they ended the first day with third place in the 200 freestyle relay as well as fourth in the 400-yard medley relay preliminary races.
There were “a lot of personal bests and season bests,” said manager Halle Perry. “200 medley relay made the NCAA cut and they are waiting to hear back if they will make it.”
On Saturday for the women’s team, sophomore Bridget Wilson and junior Margie Jones grabbed the top two places in the 100-yard butterfly. Brooks took another first-place title in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:02.37. The men finished in fourth for the final 200-yard medley relay with freshmen Boone Fleenor and Will Burkey and seniors Aidan Deege and Ellis Winfree.
The finals on Sunday saw UMW athletes with several high-ranking swims. Brooks won another first place in the 200-yard breaststroke with teammates sophomore Bridget Zagrobelny in third and senior Jenny Thompson in sixth. Wilson and junior Rose McMullen were 0.33 seconds apart in their first- and second-place finishes in the 200-yard butterfly, with Jones coming in only five seconds later for sixth place. For the men, freshman Kyle Johnson swam for 17 minutes in the 1650-yard freestyle and finished in 10th place. Junior Conrad Tan finished the 200-yard breaststroke, also in 10th place. The men won fifth place in the 400-yard freestyle relay as well.
“It can be very mentally and physically exhausting going through championship meets,” said Brooks, a nursing major. “But we as a team always support each other in the best way that we can. There were many highs throughout the meet like bringing home another championship title, to relays getting NCAA B cuts.”
Throughout the strenuous three-day meet, there were highs as well as lows that made it a special experience, Anderson said.
“The last event was the most interesting and exciting to me,” said Anderson. “At the conclusion of the meet, our women’s 400 medley relay time trialed that race to see if we could improve upon our time and move up in the national ranking. We were the only team swimming the race. The entire facility of nearly 1000 athletes and spectators was on their feet screaming and cheering for our women’s relay and they posted the fastest time in school history and dropped two seconds from just two days before.”
Paige Strycker, a sophomore psychology major, recalled some of the lighter moments of their trip to New Jersey, outside of the pool. She and some of her teammates decorated their hair with tinsel and were allowed to decorate Anderson’s hair as well.
“It was such an incredible moment to bring home the METS Championship title this year,” said Brooks. “It is always fun to see how all the hard work we as a team put in throughout the season pay off.”
Due to staff error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Halle Perry is the assistant coach for the women’s swim team. She is the manager. The article also incorrectly stated that Paige Strycker is a sociology major. She is a psychology major. This has been corrected.