After a strong regular season of conference and non-conference action, the swimming Seahawks stand 4-5 for men’s and 7-3 women’s as both teams prepare for the CAC Championships.
The Seahawks entered the 2009 Winter season with a strong freshman presence, as six first-years and no seniors characterized the men’s twelve-athlete team and eight freshman joined the women’s 20-athlete roster.
“Both teams are really young,” said Coach Andre Barbins, entering his 12th season with the Seahawks. “It’s exciting for the future, but it makes it difficult now.”
Despite the disadvantage, St. Mary’s began the season with a record-breaking start, as both the men’s and women’s teams won four consecutive meets against Catholic University, Marymount University, Goucher College, and Gallaudet University during the weekends of Oct. 30 and Nov. 6. An additional home meet win by the women’s Seahawks against Randolph-Macon College maintained the dominant beginning for the St. Mary’s swimmers.
The wins included stellar performances by first-year athletes Billy DeBoissiere and Kelly Heyde, and broke the team’s seven-meet losing streak against Marymount. “I came from a Howard County club team, which was more individual than team-based,” said DeBoissiere. “[At the college level], there’s a lot more cheering.”
The streak was halted the following weekend, however, as both teams took a first-season loss against Washington College during a non-conference meet. While the women’s team rebounded with a 129-76 home-meet conference win over York College on Nov. 21, the men’s team suffered its first conference loss of the season, 70-135 against York.
Both teams ended 2009 with a strong performance during the two-day Franklin & Marshall College Invitational, as the men’s team placed 7th out of 10 both meets while the women’s team placed 4th of 13 on Dec. 5 and 6th of 13 on Dec. 6.
“We’re a small team, but a tight-knit group,” said Jackson Webb, junior captain of the men’s team. “We’re a really young team, but the freshmen are really picking it up.”
Both teams continued to train during the Winter break, as the Seahawks participated in an eight-day training camp in Florida. “It was historically cold, but the team bonded and worked hard,” said DeBoissiere.
Returning to the deck in January, the Seahawks took a setback in the Spring semester, as they took a loss against the University of Mary Washington on Jan. 16 and again against Johns Hopkins University on Jan. 22, bringing the tally to 4-4 men’s (with a 2-2 conference record) and 6-3 women’s (with a 3-1 conference record).
The men’s team took a third hit against Salisbury on Saturday, Jan. 23 in an intense meet that came down to a 4.79-second loss in the 200-meter relay against the Sea Gulls. The women’s team triumphed over Salisbury 133-72 for the home conference win.
“The team has a good work ethic, and the classes are blending well together,” said Barbins. “There’s strong leadership from the captains, and it brings the teams together.”
Despite the setbacks, the men’s team is still aptly preparing for the upcoming CAC Championships. “[The upperclassmen] are working to show [the first-years] what they can do in practice to be better,” said Webb. “Showing others the things you’ve learned makes you think about it yourself.”
With CAC records of 2-3 men’s and 4-1 women’s, the Seahawks will host the CAC Championships during the weekend of Feb. 12-14.