Image courtesy of catholicathletics.com
By Jared Prenda
The Swimming and Diving Team at Catholic University has completed its historic run as both the men’s and women’s teams came in first at the Landmark Conference Championships this past weekend. The three-day meet was held at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center in Boyds, Maryland and the men’s team captured its fourth straight title while the women’s team won its first title after finishing in the runner-up position for the past two seasons.
The men’s team ran away with the tournament after the first day of events, ending with a 292 point total, more than 100 points ahead of second-place Scranton. This total set a new school and meet record for points after one day of events. The team never gave up an inch and increased its point differential by 100 additional points each night. It ended with a program-record 939 points, more than 300 points clear of second, to clinch its fourth straight title. This was the second-highest ever set in Landmark Conference history.
The women’s team finally became the bride after three straight years of being the bridesmaid to win its first conference championship. They started off the tournament with 241.5 points after the first day of events, which had them sitting atop the podium. The women’s competition was more tightly contested, as the team still sat in first after day two with 565.5 points, only 20 clear of second-place Scranton. The Lady Cards sealed the championship with a strong final day to win with 814.5 total points, snapping rival Susquehanna University’s 9-year title streak. The team became only the third women’s team to win the tournament in the conference’s 13-year history.
Junior swimmer Caroline Beal led the team by breaking the Landmark Conference record in the 100-backstroke with a time of 58.58, breaking her own school record she set earlier in the day at preliminaries. Beal was the only member of the women’s team to earn a first-team nomination and added 4 second-team nominations to resume with silver medal performances. 10 of her teammates were named to the second team, including reigning Rookie of the Year sophomore Angela Castano who set the school record in the 100-butterfly with a time of 58.86.
This meet marked the first time in conference history that the same university had won both the men’s and women’s titles in the same year in Landmark Conference history. Senior Emily Tighe was elated to finally capture the conference title.
“This past weekend was extremely rewarding because it highlighted the passion that our team has toward each other and toward the sport,” Tighe said. “It was probably the best conference meet I had been to because the energy was so high, the support was tremendous, and the swims were amazing. There was not an uneventful moment.”
Both teams dominated in the Landmark All-Conference Selections as the men’s team took home 18 nominations and the women’s team had 11 nominations. Head Coach Paul Waas won his fourth straight Landmark Coach of the Year award, the fifth of his tenure at Catholic. Junior Gregory McCarthy won his third straight Landmark Swimmer of the Year award. McCarthy dominated the conference championships by taking home gold in the 200-IM, 200-butterfly, and the 400-IM. McCarthy also took gold as the third leg of the 400-medley relay team and finished second as a part of the 800-freestyle relay.
Freshman distance swimmer Ellis Prescott won the Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year Award. Prescott specialized in the distance races, winning gold in both the 500-free and the 1650-free events. He also came in second with McCarthy in the 800-free event. Classmate Robert McHale won Diver of the Year by winning and setting program records in the 1-meter and 3-meter dives over the weekend.
Senior George Isaacs was one of the few members of the team to win conferences all four years of his career at CUA. He competed in multiple relay events, including the meet and school record-setting 200-freestyle relay team of classmate Kevin Jay, junior Matthew Mahon, and sophomore Jeffrey Schreifer-Flores which set the prior record at last year’s meet.
“It’s been a wild four years. During my freshman year, when we won for the first time, I didn’t understand how much it meant for the captains to win conferences. This year, winning for the fourth consecutive year, was something completely different,” said Isaacs. “We’re the first CUA men’s athletic team to win 4 consecutive years in a sport, and we’re the first team in landmark history to win on the girls’ and guys’ side.”