The Manhattan College Swimming and Diving team bid farewell to six seniors on Jan. 27 at the team’s Senior Day dual meet against Iona.
The six seniors were Alexandra Hutzler, Audrey Corcoran, Eileen Blood, Brandon Shields, Mitchell Rifkind and Tyler McCloskey. Each one was presented individually with a plaque to commemorate their athletic careers at Manhattan.
The day ended in a loss to the Gaels by a score of 197-61 on the men’s side and 182-77 on the women’s side. However, the day meant a lot more to the seniors than simply the overall final results.
“Speaking on my behalf with the last home meet, it was rather surreal,” said Shields. “My swimming career has been rather a long one and to have it finally being wrapped up and moving onto the real world is kind of surreal.”
It was also a special day for Rifkind whose family was able to make it to a meet of his for one of the first times in his athletic career. Not only was his family’s presence different than usual, but so was being the one who was honored.
“You know you always kind of sit on the sidelines and watch the seniors go by every year and you’re always really proud of them and stuff so it’s really a weird feeling being on the other side of things and being the one being recognized,” said Rifkind.
While Senior Day was the last home meet for the Jaspers, that did not mark the end to their regular season. Four days later on Jan. 31, they participated in their regular-season finale against Fairfield in Connecticut.
Like Senior Day, both the men’s and women’s sides of the team fell to their opponent (the men by 208-78 and the women by 234-45). Also like Senior Day, the focus of the seniors was less on the loss and more on the meet being their final regular season meet of their college careers.
“That one was definitely when it really kicked in,” said Rifkind.
One of the events Rifkind swam in during the Fairfield meet was the 200 IM which was one he had specialized in more so during high school. While swimming this event and others, it hit him that he would never again swim in these events in the same way as he had throughout college.
Shields also felt that the Fairfield meet was a tougher pill to swallow in comparison to Senior Day.
“Fairfield kind of hit home a little more,” said Shields. “Like having the final dual meet ever, knowing I’m not going to race to that capacity again was kind of sad.”
The fact that the team swam against Fairfield of all teams to close out their final season was ironic to Blood as it reminded her of the first meet she participated in during her freshman year.
“That was my very first meet my freshman year; that’s where we had it,” said Blood. “So I started and ended in the same exact place so that was funny how it worked out. And I swam the same exact events that I swam as a freshman and I ended them as a senior.”
The experience the seniors had with the team helped them improve as swimmers, but it also taught them valuable life lessons as well. For Rifkind, spending time with the team made him better in terms of time management.
“Biggest lesson learned had to be time management,” said Rifkind. “That’s one of the things I’m definitely most thankful for because I was terrible at managing my time and scheduling things like that coming into college.”
Blood learned the lesson of giving her all to everything she does.
“I think I learned over the four years that you got to give it a hundred percent, everything that you do and you can’t give a little there and a little over there,” said Blood. “You have to kind of give it your all at all times.”
The six seniors had gone through the good times and the bad together. Their ups and downs were part of the reason they consider themselves as more than just teammates or friends. For Shields, the seniors on the swimming and diving team are family.
“I know that they’re brothers and sisters that I plan on keeping in contact with as long as possible,” said Shields.
Editor’s Note: Alexandra Hutzler is a senior writer for The Quadrangle.