By Glenn Billman, news staff
The Northeastern swimming and diving team claimed 421 points – the second highest total in program history – at Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championships Feb. 22-25. Despite breaking three school records and notching points in every event but the 200-yard backstroke, the Huskies were unable to break out of fifth place, which they have achieved five times since joining the CAA in 2005.
The NU women dominated the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, who scored 291 points, and came close to Drexel University’s fourth place score of 443 points. Towson University claimed third, which had been a season-long goal for the Huskies, with 700.5 points. The Huskies had previously eked out a victory over Towson in November.
“For whatever reason, we were just a little flat as a group,” head coach Roy Coates said. “We were in a new venue, a good chunk of our team was sick or getting sick, but I don’t think there was one thing. I think there were a lot of factors that played into it, but the bottom line is we didn’t perform as well as we’d hoped.”
While the team did not perform optimally due to illnesses and other hurdles, Coates said his estimation of the team’s strength in the league has not changed.
“I still believe that we should have been up there,” Coates said. “I think if we had been firing all cylinders, we should have been at least fourth, and I think we should have been fighting for the third spot. We were off, and I don’t think my estimation of how we should have done changed after the fact. I still believe we should have been in the fight for third place.”
All of the rookies who competed took home points, and seven seniors swam their last collegiate races, including captains Delaney Lanker and Jordan Domeier who placed seventh and eighth in the 200 butterfly.
“I was proud of our seniors,” Coates said. “I think they finished up well and despite our performance as a team, I think they did a really good job trying to get everyone ready for every section of the meet.”
Despite having the flu, freshman Megan Clark ended her stellar season with 32 points. Clark earned second in the 50-yard freestyle and beat her own school record for the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.07, which landed her fourth place overall. Clark also helped shave .03 seconds off of the school record for 200-yard medley relay, which now rests at 1:40.31.
“I went into [the 100-yard freestyle] finals not really expecting anything and it was a nice surprise,” Clark said. “We all wanted to score points for the team, so you just have to buckle down and swim through the pain.”
Junior Sara Touchette-McGowan took home NU’s second-ever first place CAA Championship finish in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 54.06 seconds. Sophomore Carly Schnabel made waves as well when she broke the school record for the 500-yard freestyle in the preliminary round with a time of 4:52.26. In the final heat she took home eighth with a time of 4:58.46.
“At the beginning of the year, I asked the coaches if I could cater my training more toward the 500, so I’m really satisfied that I ended up dropping so much time in the event,” Schnabel said. “It was a tribute to the hard work that I put in, and the effort and the time the coaches put into helping me prepare. It felt great, honestly. The race itself, I couldn’t have swam it any better.”
Despite the fifth place ranking, Schnabel said she wouldn’t change anything about the season or the championship meet.
“We all really worked hard as a team. We all put our entire effort, all of our heart and soul, into the season, so I wouldn’t change anything,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens.”
The diving squad placed fourth overall with 53 points, 29 of which junior Alyssa Seales scored. Seales landed third in the 3-meter and sixth in the 1-meter dives, while junior Jacquelyn Gover placed eighth.
“We went out there and did our best,” Seales said. “Some of the girls were sick, some were injured, but I think as a diving team as a whole we really performed well.”
Seales and Gover both qualified for the NCAA Zone A meet March 6-8 in the 1-meter board.
“I’m very excited, and I’m really glad that I was able to qualify again,” Seales said. “I went last year and I performed well, but I am in a much better place than where I was last year. I’m really hoping that I can perform to the best of my ability and place higher than I did last year. I have high expectations of myself. I’m excited to get out there and show what I can do.”
Coates said he wants to make sure not to repeat the lackluster end of this season in the future.
“That’s our job: To come back and for all of us to evaluate where we are and what we need to do better so that, no matter where we finish, we want to be able to say we performed at our highest level,” Coates said. “And I would have been fine if we finished fifth and I thought we performed as well as we could have, and I don’t think we as a group believe that. Now we need to come back and all take an honest evaluation of where we’re at, what we did and how we don’t have this happen again.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics