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Successful Swimming at CAC Championships

Brie McDowell, senior, set multiple conference and school records. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)
Senior Natalie Schaefer at the CAC championships. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)

St. Mary’s hosted the 2009 Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championships on Feb. 13, 14, and 15; where the women’s swimming team finished second and the men’s team finished third. Both teams swam very well, setting several records and winning a multitude of awards.

Aquatics Center Director and Head Coach Andre Barbins said, “[The tournament] exceeded all expectations, not only for our team, but for the conference.”

The University of Mary Washington teams were ranked first overall for both women’s and men’s events, but St. Mary’s had their share of individual accomplishments. Senior captain Brie McDowell won seven gold medals, set seven CAC meet records, nine conference records and nine St. Mary’s marks. She also qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships, which will be held during spring break. In an interview, McDowell said the women’s team gave their “best performance ever” and she was “definitely excited” about going to the NCAA championships.

But McDowell wasn’t the only one establishing herself in the pool over the weekend. On the men’s team, senior Mike Preston “capped off his career with 5 school records,” in Barbins’ words. Junior Rachel Hotchko will also be attending NCAA championships with McDowell.

The success of the Seahawks during this championship was also shown through sophomore Jackson Webb’s new school record in the men’s 200-meter fly, first year Amanda Pazouki’s new school record in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, and senior women’s captain Nat Schaefer’s first place finish in the women’s 1650-meter freestyle.

Barbins was also awarded his third CAC Women’s Swim Coach of the Year by the conference. During an interview, he stressed how “good [it was] to see the team’s goals and individual goal’s realized.” He said the team is still focused on this year and the upcoming championship in March.

Members from both teams also volunteered their opinions about the champions. From the women’s team, first-year Christine DiMenna said, “I was really nervous how I would rank against girls on the other teams, but knowing that my teammates were there to support me and cheer for me really took that stress level down.”

Also on the women’s team, junior Anna Chiplis said, “It was great to watch people race and see all of our hard work from September to February pay off.” When asked what could have been improved during the championship, men’s swimming junior Cameron Buckingham said, “Nothing. We did great.”

DiMenna said “There is amazing team unity and I am proud to say I am a part of it and to call these amazing people my friends.” St. Mary’s swimming teams were very successful during this tournament. Barbins said, “I couldn’t be more proud.”

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