The Blue Wave washed away most of its competition in their first matches of the winter season. As swimming and diving returns from a season where both the men’s and women’s teams won SUNYAC titles, they plan to exceed expectations.
The Blue Wave began with a meet on Oct. 27 against the Division I Griffins from Canisius College. Although the men’s team came away with a loss, the women’s team notched a win against the higher seeded team thanks to strong performances in individual relay and from sophomore swimmer Deidra Osula.
Osula felt that the win over a DI team represented a promising preamble to the rest of the team’s season.
“It was really great to beat a DI team when we’re DIII,” Osula said. “I think we’re going to have a really great season because we’re starting off so strong. Even compared to last year, we’re starting off really strong.”
The men were not able to come out on top over the higher seeded team in Canisius, but both teams beat Colby College and SUNY Fredonia during a dual meet at Fredonia on Saturday Nov. 3.
Sophomore swimmer Harry Harkins emphasized that the meets boded well for the men’s season.
“These meets showed that we’re ready for more competitions and to face bigger and better teams,” Harkins said. “[Colby and Fredonia] are both good programs and I was happy from what I saw across the board. It looks like we have a bunch of depth.”
While the victories at these meets have certainly bolstered the team’s early season, many students are more excited about where they can practice than where they played. For the entirety of the 2017-2018 season, the Blue Wave was shut out from its home pool in Merritt Athletic Center due to renovations, according to swimming and diving head coach Paul Dotterweich.
The teams shuttled for 20 to 30 minutes to local high schools whenever they would practice. Since the commute added more time to practice schedules, the players struggled.
“It was extremely difficult,” senior swimmer Nancy Nasky said. “The time commitment was so much more than normal, and it definitely made things like balancing school work really hard. Now I have a pool again and I just look back and I don’t know how I did it last year.”
The team also looks forward to a meet with a hometown crowd at the home opener on Saturday Nov. 10.
“I think we’re all really excited to be back at our own pool and have people come to see the race,” Nasky said. “Last season was such a drag, since every single meet we had was away; our closest ‘home meet’ was in Buffalo.”
Overall, both teams plan to make a run for the SUNYAC title, for the National College Athletic Association meet and for individual recognition at nationals. The men began this season coming off their fifth consecutive win at the SUNYACs, while the women have won eleven straight SUNYAC titles.
Due to their performances in their first three meets, Dotterweich has high expectations for both the men’s and women’s teams. But he especially predicts the women will have a uniquely excellent season.
“On the women’s side, this may be the best team we’ve ever had,” Dotterweich said. “They’re really deep and it’s hard for me to think of any areas where we have a hole in our lineup … I’ve been really pleased with the men too. We graduated nine talented athletes last year and we brought in a big class of freshman. So, we’re pretty young right now, but they’re performing very well. I think we’re in a good spot.”
Despite the Blue Wave’s big splash, the teams recognize areas that could improve.
“There’s always things we could work on,” Dotterweich said. “Almost half of the team are new, so there’s a lot of education that goes on as we teach the newer athletes about our team culture… we’re always tightening the screws and trying to be cleaner and better."