By Andrew Mannion, Staff Writer
Manhattan College’s swim roster has just 23 athletes listed and stands at nearly half the size of other teams in the MAAC. The Manhattan swim team has always had a smaller roster than its competitors, making it impossible for them to stack swimmers in events at the same rate of other MAAC teams.
Having a shallower roster prohibits Manhattan from stacking events, as athletes are limited to how many races they can compete in at one meet. Other teams within the MAAC conference have approximately 50 swimmers on their team. Having almost double the manpower of the Jaspers, teams have been able to score the same amount of points as Manhattan, even when a Manhattan swimmer wins the event.
For instance, when the Jaspers swam the women’s 200 freestyle against St. Francis Brooklyn, Mackenzie Tuttle won the race and scored 9 points for Manhattan. Since all swimmers on the roster are limited to racing just 3 times a meet, Tuttle would be the lone scorer for the Jaspers, as she was the only swimmer able to compete in this race. St. Francis was able to tie Tuttle with 9 total points from 3 different swimmers entered in the same event.
Past MAAC champions have had larger rosters. Rider, Fairfield and Marist have been the only teams to win the MAAC championship over the past 12 years. This may not come as a surprise when you consider Fairfield has a roster of 48, Rider has 43 and Marist with the largest at 50 swimmers.
The players are feeling this disadvantage. Teddy Segmuller commented on some of the competitive disadvantages.
“Definitely some of the drawbacks for having a smaller team is that, when it comes to competing in the larger championship meats or even just dual meats in general, we typically don’t win those in terms of point wise just because we don’t have the body count to rack up those points that we need,” Segmuller said. “We have the depth in terms of quality swimmers. We just don’t have enough (total swimmers).”
Although the smaller roster size has great effects on the teams stance in competition, there are also some effects that give them advantages that ther teams may not have.
Being on a smaller team, the swimmers are able to become closer as friends and create a positive team dynamic. A main difference between Manhattan College and other schools is that the mens and womens teams practice together.
“We’re a lot closer that you know, we feel more comfortable talking to each other on a personal level,” Saric said. “I think everyone gets along well. When it comes to academics, everyone feels comfortable reaching out to one another for help. We just have a closeness that I feel like on other teams you wouldn’t really have with everybody.”
Saric also talked about how her career has prospered while being on a smaller team like Manhattan’s. Over her career here, she hasnt been kept to speciallizing in just one event or two, but rather can swim multiple events during a meet.
“I was always nervous that I was going to come to a school where I would only be able to take part in one event and not have any kind of ability to branch out and try something different. Or maybe you know, you know, because my best event is the 200 butterfly but I’m still able to take part in the other events, because again, we don’t have as many girls to fill those other spots. So I can still try and work on those other events that I want to get better in”
This year, Manhattan College and Horace Mann School have come to an agreement where the Jaspers will be able to practice and race at Horace Mann’s facilities. Many swimers on the team have experienced their first home meet this year, and the team seemed incredibly excited about that.
Head coach, Eric Rasmussen Jr., talked about this after their first home meet against St. Francis Brooklyn. Rasmussen said “It was exciting to have our first home meet in nearly two years, I along with the kids were very excited to have the opportunity to compete at the Jeffrey H. Loria Family Aquatic Center.”
Having a quality practice facility is crucial for the swimmers.. Having consistent practice throughout a season is critical for a team’s success and it seems like they have it this year. Segmuller also remarked on how grateful she is to be able to use the facility.
“I’m very grateful that we formed a relationship with Horace Mann and were able to swim in their beautiful facility,” Segmuller said. “It’s an awesome eight lane pool which we haven’t had for this program. So being able to just utilize such a large space has been really great.”
Manhattan swim may have a small team, and it may seem like a disadvantage when looking at just the score sheet. However, they have made it clear that this is a team that has truly built a family within it and produced powerhouse athletes that can hold their own against larger programs.