By Caroline McCarthy, Sports Editor
Mackenzie Tuttle and Mary Segmuller, who goes by Teddy, are dominating Manhattan College swimming records — even without a pool.
With no pool facilities on Manhattan College’s campus, the Jaspers take a 15-minute trek to Riverdale Country School for their pool time from 6-8 pm. But by 7:15 pm, the team is dry and on their way back to campus.
This is not for lack of effort, but rather lack of accessibility to Manhattan College’s dining service. In lieu of COVID-19 Locke’s Loft, the solitary dining hall at the college has limited its hours to 7:15 am-8 pm on weekdays and 11 am – 7 pm on weekends.
To ensure their athletes have the opportunity to eat dinner, the swim team has been forced to cut its practice time by 45 minutes each day.
“It’s hard when we’re not given the respect we deserve,” Tuttle said. “I see other teams on campus getting everything they could ever need in life and we’re struggling to have pool time or even let our freshmen eat dinner after practice.”
The issue has been addressed with the athletic department many times, Tuttle and Segmuller said. Segmuller, the Diversity President of Manhattan College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee calls this issue something she is “very passionate about” and is working to solve.
“I just want to make sure that not only student-athletes, but students in general, all over campus are being fed,” Segmuller said. “It’s one of the three basic necessities that we need in life.”
When COVID-19 restrictions prohibited indoor dining in New York City, Locke’s Loft offered grab-and-go options and cut-back on their hours — closing as early as 6 pm some nights. Though the school is fully functioning and vaccinated students are permitted to eat inside, Locke’s has continued to limit its hours of operation due to budget cuts.
In an email to the Quadrangle, Ken Waldhof, director of business and client services at Manhattan College shared that Manhattan was not the only school still being affected by the pandemic.
“Several dining service establishments across the country have been affected by fewer resources and personnel. We are not an exception of that,” Waldhof wrote to the Quadrangle.
Manhattan College Athletic Director Marianne Reilly is aware of the situation and said Marques Dantzler, Associate Athletic Director for NCAA Compliance is bringing it to the attention of the dining council.
“Obviously it’s not coming fast enough for some folks and I understand that,” Reilly said at a Quadrangle interview in December. “But we’re at the end of the semester. I don’t see anything changing before the end of the semester.”
Yet as the team is approaching the MAAC Championships this week, there has been no change to dining hall policies or accommodations made for the athletes.
The swim team has made many attempts at rectifying this situation since late October, Segmuller said. The team has made suggestions like increasing the number of Jasper Dollars from their meal plans or even having Locke’s set aside to-go containers for the team to pick up after practice. Neither of which were acknowledged by the athletic department and the team was forced to resort to less practice time.
Tuttle, the Manhattan College Rookie of the Year title-winner during the 2019-2020 season, recalls the training schedule was much more rigorous during her initial season than it is now due to complications with pool time and dining services.
“We practiced twice a day, every day for about two hours,” Tuttle said. “That was probably the most training I had ever done in my life.”
Tuttle and Segmuller began their careers at Manhattan setting school records as part of the 200, 400 and 800 yard freestyle relay teams in the 2020 MAAC championships. Both swimmers also set individual school records that day, which they superseded in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships on Dec. 3-5.
“We had an outstanding weekend at the ECAC winter championships,” said head coach Eric Rasmussen. “Nearly everyone had season-best times. A number of people had lifetime best times and we set a number of school records.”
Tuttle and Segmuller, along with relay teammates Kyla Guilfoil and Sarah Hamilton broke the 400 yard freestyle relay that Tuttle and Segmuller helped set at the 2020 MAAC Championships. The four were snacking on pizza and packing their bags to leave when Rasmussen informed them they had, in fact, beaten the school record.
“We swam it and were like ready to get out of there because we had been there for three days,” Tuttle said. “He said we broke the relay record and we said ‘no we didn’t.’”
Tuttle, Segmuller, Kali Nembach and Jamie Quinn set the original record at 3:41:10. The new squad clocked in roughly two seconds earlier with a time of 3:38:43. After the initial shock, the girls celebrated with cheers, pizza and a good night’s rest.
Tuttle also defeated two personal records at the ECAC Championships. She originally set the 500 yard freestyle record at the 2020 MAAC Championships with a time of 5:12:37, and surpassed it by two full seconds, coming in at 5:10:29. Her 200 yard freestyle record, set at the 2019 ECAC Winter Championship with a time of 1:56:47 now stands at 1:56:08.
“I mean, I honestly thought, there is no way I would ever touch these records again. I thought that was old news,” Tuttle said.
Being a sports psychology major, Tuttle knew she had to set goals for her season. She believed manifesting to beat her freshman year records was a stretch, to say the least, especially with inadequate practice sessions after being out of the water for a year and a half.
“I swim the longer events so if I’m thinking about [beating my records] the whole time I’ll go insane,” Tuttle said. “I always have the thought like wouldn’t it be cool if I could go that fast again? But I never really expect it.”
The unexpected success at the ECAC Championships came after two-months of in-pool training. The team was without a coach until Rasmussen signed on in October.
“We just kind of shocked ourselves almost at the ECACs. Especially since we haven’t been training,” Segmuller said. “Basically all of the teams we were competing against have had access to facilities.”
Still, Segmuller set a personal record of her own at the meet. The 100 yard freestyle record, previously held by her former teammate Kali Nembach at 54.04, now stands in Segmuller’s name clocking in at 53.27. She broke Nembach’s record again that day during finals with a time of 53.54.
“I think it is great to see previous records broken because that means the team is improving and I would want no one other than Teddy to do that!” Nembach wrote in an email. “I cannot think of a more deserving person.”
Tuttle also competed in these events, clocking in at 53.58 in prelims and 53.46 in finals in the 100 yard freestyle. The girls broke the school record four times in one day, proving how far the program has come.
“We kind of got a sense of like, ‘we still got this,’” Tuttle said. “We’re both pretty excited going forward right now.”
Tuttle and Segmuller say the team is capable of great things this season, if only given the proper resources to ensure success.
“In terms of us being student-athletes and being expected to perform at such a high level, having that stress and those expectations but not being given the resources for us to actually perform is sad,” Segmuller said. “We’ve all worked so hard to get where we are right now.”
Editor’s Note: Kyla Guilfoil, who was mentioned in this article, is editor in chief of The Quadrangle.