The Geneseo men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are set to begin their respective postseasons for February with high expectations. Blue Wave will compete at the SUNYAC Championships at Erie Community College from Wednesday Feb. 15-18.
For both teams, conference titles are nothing out of the ordinary. A win for the women would mark their 10th consecutive SUNYAC Championship. It would be the fourth in a row for the men, who have won the title in 18 of the past 20 seasons.
In a sport that can place a lot of focus on individual success, the program has been able to cement itself as a perennial winner at the team level. Head coach Paul Dotterweich said his focus is always on team success.
“Aside from our academic goals, our number one priority is winning a championship and it takes 20 guys to get that done,” he said. “It comes back to our team culture and where our priorities are. We’re team first above everything else.”
Both teams will head into championship season ranked in the top 25 in Division III by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. After commanding performances at the Geneseo Invitational on Jan. 28, the men were slotted at No. 20 and the women at No. 21. It is the first time that both teams hold a spot in the rankings at the same time this season.
“That was cool to see,” Dotterweich said. “On a year-to-year basis, that’s always one of our goals: to be in the top 25 in the country. We’re happy to be in there and it’s nice to get some recognition across the country.”
For the athletes who will compete at the SUNYACs, preparation includes a decrease in training volume, according to Dotterweich. They will undergo a two or three-week “taper,” in which practices become significantly easier to give the athletes the energy they need. Mixed with the strength they have built up throughout the season, the Knights should hit their peak performance at the most important time.
For some, the challenge of training hard all season can take its toll and it can become a task within itself to stay healthy for the moment they have been preparing for since day one.
“We train our whole season for one weekend and it can be very unforgiving,” Dotterweich said. “We have a few guys right now who are battling illness and we’re a week out. You get the flu now and your season can be shot.”
The team’s maturity and work ethic, however, continues to shine. Dotterweich has gone the entire season without an assistant coach on the swimming side.
“The team has really stepped up,” he said. “I’ve had some upper class athletes that have been helping me out at practices and have done a good job of being a little more mature and focused, understanding that getting the job done is a responsibility that is a little greater on them this year.”
Beyond the SUNYAC Championships, the goal is to send as many athletes as possible to the NCAA Division III National Championships in Shenandoah, Texas, from March 15-18.
Geneseo sent two athletes to nationals last year, sophomore swimmer Nancy Nasky and junior diver Samuel Randall, who won the National Championship in the one-meter dive. Dotterweich and diving coach Shawn Austin hope to send a few more athletes this year.
“Shawn [Austin] is hoping to take another diver or two. On the swimming side, I feel like we have a couple relays that have the potential and maybe a few other individuals,” he said.
Only 17 swimmers and three divers can compete for each side at the SUNYAC Championships, but the athletes who were left off of the squad will have a last chance to compete this season at the Ithaca Invitational on Saturday Feb. 11.