by AMANDA SHEWARD
From Nov. 17–19, the University of Mary Washington’s varsity swim team competed in the first of two mid-season invitationals at Franklin and Marshall College. The meet took place over the course of three days, and there were six sessions in total with preliminaries in the morning and finals at night. In order to make it to finals, each swimmer had to be in the top 24 after their preliminary swim.
The invitational at Franklin and Marshall happens every season the week before Thanksgiving break. It is always an enjoyable meet for the swimmers because it allows them to spend more time with each other and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Aidan Deege, a fifth-year student who majored in business and is currently pursuing his graduate degree at UMW, is one of the team’s swim captains. Last year, Deege did not swim at the Franklin and Marshall invitational, so this year his goal was to compare his times to when he was a junior two years ago.
“I used this as a way to tell myself how much improvement I have undergone since then, maturing both physically and mentally,” said Deege. “I had no doubt that I was going to improve, so I was also looking forward to having a good time with my family and teammates.”
Being a captain is a substantial role to handle, especially when it comes to meets as large as the Franklin and Marshall invitational. Furthermore, the invitational serves as an indicator of where the team stands in the middle of the season, which puts pressure on the team to swim their best.
“It’s always a roller coaster at this meet,” said Deege. “Everyone has expectations for how well they want to perform and it’s never going to go the way you pictured it initially. Despite knowing this going in, I had an incredible experience this year in my new role as captain and as an individual swimmer in the meet.”
During long, multiple-day swim meets, it was hard for swimmers to keep their energy going, but their sense of community helped them power through.
“I was the most proud of our team’s ability to support each other. It’s very hard to bring such a large group of people together in ways that we are able to as a team,” said Deege. “I’m environmentally oriented, meaning when the community around me is happy and thriving, I am as well. I love our team.”
Peyton Lawrence, a freshman accounting major, shared her experience at the invitational.
“Franklin and Marshall was super fun and it was very exciting to see everyone’s hard work throughout the season pay off,” said Lawrence. “My favorite part of the meet was being able to swim in finals because the environment at night is so much better than in the morning.”
Grace Gartman, a 2021 graduate, is now one of the assistant coaches for the swim team. According to Gartman, her favorite part of the meet was the final event, which was the 4×100 meter women’s freestyle relay. Kinsey Brooks, Selby Heyman, Ann Karr and Margie Jones swam the relay, and the team tied with Frostburg University with a time of 3:34.18.
“It was an exciting race to watch that relay come together and put up impressive splits,” said Gartman.
At the end of the invitational, the men’s team came in fourth and the women’s team came in second. In February, the team will compete in their second mid-season invitational at the New Jersey Aquatic Conference.