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Seahawk Swimming Enters Second Half of the Season

Under the purview of their relatively new coach, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) women’s and men’s swim teams are gearing up for the second half of their seasons. Thus far, their performances have been noteworthy, with many swimmers breaking their personal records in dual meets.

Last weekend, the SMCM swimmers faced off against numerous Division II and III NCAA swim teams. The men’s team matched their performance from last season, placing eighth once again according to collegeswimming.com. First-year Andrew Scott had a standout performance, breaking the school record in the 500-yard freestyle by 1.52 seconds with a time of 4:41.25. The women’s team finished sixth overall. First-year Anna Lapoint also had a strong showing, finishing fourth out of 41 swimmers in the 500-yard freestyle.

Such a performance follows the trend of the swim teams’ seasons thus far. This season, the Seahawk’s efforts have earned the men’s and women’s team victories over Randolph-Macon College and Frostburg State University in dual meets.

In the prior of those two meets, the men’s team pulled off a riveting last-minute comeback to defeat the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets in their home opener. The surge was aided by senior Captain Kieran Broder and sophomore Jacob Rosenzweig-Stein. Broder and Rosenzweig-Stein finished first and third respectively in the 100-yard backstroke according to the SMCM athletic department website.

In the final event of the competition, the 200-yard freestyle relay, first year Nate Donoghue, junior Reed Rhoads, sophomore Ryan Akhavan and junior Colin Cassady took to the starting blocks for a race which, according to the SMCM athletic department website, “supplied plenty of suspense and drama.” The cohort of swimmers ended up beating Randolph-Macon College by 35 hundredths of a second in order to claim victory in the race and the meet in its entirety.

The groundwork for the victory was laid by many noteworthy performances. First year Andrew Scott, for example, won the 1,000-yard swim by more than 27 seconds.

The women’s team also arose victorious against Randolph-Macon, but by a larger margin. Sophomore Carolyn Sutton and first year Anna LaPoint led the Seahawks with three gold medals apiece according to the SMCM athletic department website. Junior Hailley Baughman, senior captain Rachel Sonnenberg, junior Rachel Yates, junior Elizabeth Valenti and first year Alekxandra Grcic all contributed outstanding performances to bring the Seahawks to victory.

Valenti and Baughman also earned individual gold medals, according to the SMCM athletic department, in the 1,000-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, respectively.

The Randolph-Macon dual meet was but one example of the effort the Seahawks have been giving to their sport.

“To be at [a] point, where you are at your personal bests during hard training, is pretty impressive,” remarked Coach Casey Brandt regarding the numerous personal records set by the swimmers thus far.

The St. Mary’s team, both women’s and men’s, has fallen short in their other five meets, according to the SMCM athletic department.

Head Coach Casey Brandt took to the helm of SMCM’s varsity swim team following the departure of former Coach Andre Rudolph Barbins. According to Fox 5 News, Barbins was “charged with one count of child pornography and one count of displaying obscene matter to a minor.” He had been the swim coach for nearly two decades.

Brandt has brought his 18 years of coaching experience to the Seahawks. When he took the program over in the summer of  2016, SMCM’s director of athletics and recreation, Scott Devine, stated, “[Brandt] will bring a great deal of technical and developmental knowledge to our swim programs. Casey’s club and USA Swimming connections throughout the state and the region will allow him to attract strong swimmers to St. Mary’s College, both in terms of quality and quantity. This will help us build upon an already solid foundation.”

“Last year we made a few big changes in training […] we’re trying a lot more new things [and] doing a lot more strength training,” Brandt told The Point News. This allowed swimmers to come into the season better prepared. “We won a couple dual meets that we lost last year,” Brandt said, speaking of how the training has helped the team. He continued to explain that the team got a little closer to victory in some meets than they were last year as well.

Now the Seahawks have a few more weeks of practice before they get their well-deserved break to a season which began in October. After two weeks of break, during which Coach Brandt tells The Point News he hopes his swimmers stay in shape, the Seahawks will be heading to Florida for a weeklong training trip.

Brandt told The Point News, “we are not where we want to be yet, but we’re headed in the right direction for sure.”  

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