By, Rebecca Kranich, Contributor
The Manhattan College swimming and diving team is looking to make some big waves at the 2022 MAAC Championships this week in Buffalo, New York. The competition will last from Feb. 9 through 12. The team has spent months preparing for the championship, and many aim to beat their personal, and even school, records.
The athletes recently traveled to Florida for a vigorous training trip and are now tapering their practice hours in preparation. On the trip, the team had morning and evening practices, with weightlifting throughout the day.
“It’s definitely more training than we receive here at school. Because obviously, the pool is not ours. We all take advantage of training trips to the best of our abilities,” Mary (Teddy) Segmuller said.
Segmuller is a junior exercise science and pre-physical therapy major who has spent the last three years on the swim team. She swims the 50 yard freestyle, 100 yard freestyle and 100 yard backstroke. Furthermore, she is the current school record holder of the 50 yard freestyle with a 24.74 and the 100 yard freestyle with a 53.27s.
However, some team members did not participate in the training trip while down in Florida.
“I actually had the unfortunate stroke of luck of testing positive like this first day of training trip,” Mackenzie Tuttle said.
Tuttle, a captain of the swim team and a junior psychology major, spent the week in quarantine and did not get to train with the rest of the team. Nevertheless, she is still one of the most accomplished team members.
Tuttle swims distance freestyle events and has set multiple school records, including the 200 yard freestyle with a time of 1:56.08, 500 yard freestyle with 5:10.29 and the 1000 yard freestyle with 10:46.87.
“I think we did get a lot of good training under our belt for the people who could train and it did set us up for the MAACS. We came back more in shape than we were when we left,” Segmuller said.
According to men’s team co-captain and mechanical engineering major Dominick D’Esposito, since the team arrived back in the Bronx, practice has been demanding but slowed due to lack of pool time and dining hall accommodations.
“We haven’t swam that much since Covid, but after a month and a half everything is back to normal,” D’Esposito said.
D’Esposito has spent his four years swimming the 200 yard freestyle, 100 yard backstroke and 200 yard backstroke. This year he has been named co-captain of the men’s swim team and is looking to beat his personal record for the 200 yard freestyle. His current time is 1:49.75 and he hopes to get it down to 1:47.00.
“I definitely think everyone can make personal best and at least season best,” D’Esposito said.
Joseph Brennan, a freshman freestyle and breaststroke swimmer, hopes to break the current school 100 yard breaststroke record. The record stands at 56.17s by Timothy Valentine ‘20. Brennan’s current best time is 57.17s.
Tapering is a training tactic swimmers use to prepare their bodies for major competitions. During this time, practice times are cut in order for athletes to focus on resting.
“It is based on our different body types and the different events that we do,” Segmuller said. “Some people need more rest. Some people don’t need it. You don’t feel great because it’s like a shock to your system. We would usually do 5,000 to 6,000 yards and normal practice. I’m doing like 2,500 to 2,800 yards. When we’re asked to do fast times, we need 110 percent effort. It’s more the quality of the swimming rather than the quantity at this point.”
However, even though the team has some promising athletes, their complaints still go unanswered by the administration.
“Since COVID, many of the freshmen have felt lost and confused. The school hasn’t been clear about coaching or pool access,” Brennan said when asked about conditions coming back for the 2021-2022 season.
COVID has caused issues for more than just the freshman. Many on the team spent almost a year and a half away from the water, and with the absence of a coach the whole summer, many did not know what to expect this season.
“We came back here thinking we had no coach and no pool. No training insight. Everybody was like, feeling negatively about it,” Tuttle said. “But I think after training with our new coach [Eric Rasmussen] who we all love, we had that ECAC midseason meet and everybody performed really well. So I think that kind of snapped everybody back into it. So I think people are feeling much more motivated.”
Tuttle and Segmuller explained that spirit was low for returning members. However, the addition of Rasmussen as the new head coach helped revive it.
“Mackenzie and I combined have had three different coaches. We were both recruited by the same coach who left before we even had her. Then we had another coach, and now we have Eric who’s great,” Segmuller added.
While this season has gone exceptionally well for the swim team, the large scale of the MAAC championship, especially considering the small size of Manhattan College’s team, is a considerable feat to overcome.
“We’re definitely the underdogs coming into events. We’re hoping to get more people in finals so that we can score more points for the team,” Segmuller said.
“The competition is on a much larger scale. We’re competing against people from all over. Everything is definitely less friendly. But the competitive nature is fun,” Brennan added.
Furthermore, the team has high hopes for themselves, looking to break records set just this season.
“This season, I broke the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle [records] at the ECAC midseason meet, and I’m looking to do it again next week,” Tuttle said.
“I’m hoping to break both of my records in the 100 yard freestyle and 50 yard freestyle. That would be awesome if we could do that. And for the relay as well we want to try to improve those,” Segmuller said.
Tuttle and Segmuller also competed in the 400 yard women’s freestyle relay alongside Kyla Guilfoil and Sarah Hamilton. They hold the school record with a time of 3.3843s.
On top of placing well, some rivalries come into play during MAAC championships.
“We have competed well against Fairfield in the past during my earlier years on the team,” D’Esposito said. “Iona is also another one. Since a lot of us have friends at Iona, there are a bunch of individual rivalries between athletes.”
With a new coach and morale restored, the team is looking to make qualifying rounds and send athletes to the ECAC spring championships, a championship meet held shortly after the MAAC’s.
“I’m hoping that the team’s kind of motivated to get cuts for MAAC’s because that would be the last opportunity for people to do that. Mackenzie and I and a few other people have already gotten those ECAC cuts, which is really exciting. I know a lot of people are going to be shooting towards that. So I think as a team goal, that’s kind of something that’s on everybody’s minds,” Segmuller said.
Editor’s Note: Kyla Guilfoil, who was mentioned in this article, is editor in chief of The Quadrangle.