Image Courtesy of Catholic University Athletics
By Jonathan Norman
This past weekend, Catholic University’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams won the 2023 Landmark Conference Championship. The men won their seventh straight title, and the women won their third championship in the last four seasons.
The women’s team won the championship by scoring a total of 807 points to edge out the second-place team in Scranton by 32 points. The team’s win was highlighted by many great performances, especially in the 400 freestyle relay. The group of sophomore Ava Snyder, senior Shannon Raue, senior Emma Gould and freshman Katie Herman had a final time of 3:35.27 to take first place and set a new school record.
“Going into the 400 freestyle relay, the meet was very close between Scranton and us. Scranton had really great swims and dives on day 2 of the meet, so there was very little room for error on day 3. We were fortunate that everyone had great swims that night, so going into the final swim we knew that as long as we didnt make any mistakes, we could win the meet,” said Emma Gould. “Despite having that knowledge, I still was very nervous for this swim because it would be my last race ever, and I wanted the team to win. Throughout the race, the members of the women’s relay had excellent swims, and we were able to not only win the event and get the school record but also win the meet.”
Gould and her teammates’ performance in the 400 relay played a huge role in the team’s overall success this past weekend. Not only were they able to celebrate setting a new school record, but also a championship.
“After we won the meet the entire room was screaming and celebrating with excitement. Winning this relay is something that I know I will never forget,” said Gould. “I couldn’t imagine my last race and meet ending any other way!”
As for the men’s team, they had a dominating performance to win the Landmark Conference Championship by scoring 765 points. This score beat the second place Drew University team by 76 points. The men’s team also boasted many great performances on their path to victory, including junior Nathan Ober’s first place finish in the 200 yard breaststroke. Ober set a conference and team record for the event with this performance.
“After the success of last year, I knew that to maintain such success would require an even greater amount of commitment and hard work. Winning the title of champion, team record holder, and conference record holder is an honor that I can now share with my previous teammate Chris Grunbok, who had previously held the record,” Ober said. “To close out the weekend on such a high note in all regards is all that I could have asked for. All of the hours of training spent for that moment, and others, were what kept me calm and ready to take home the crown, once again for Catholic.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams were led by the great leadership of head coach Toby Ziegler. This year was Ziegler’s third season as head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs and it ended with a pair of championships.
“Winning both the men’s and women’s Landmark Championship is a truly special accomplishment. Winning just one is challenging, but doing so on both sides takes a full team effort. It shows that we came together as one big team, fully supporting each other from start to finish,” said Ziegler. “We had plenty of standout performances, team and conference records being set, and NCAA B cut times achieved. Obviously, those performances reflected big time on the scoreboard, but this team had big contributions from each and every team member all year long, they leaned on one another and pushed each other to success.”
Ziegler, whose staff was named the 2023 men’s coaching staff of the year, has led the men’s swimming team to three straight Landmark Conference Championships since arriving in 2020. This was also the second time he led the women’s team to a championship as well. Both teams look poised to continue to compete for championships under Ziegler’s leadership.
“Championships are won by a team, and each and every team member went out and earned it this past weekend,” said Ziegler. “I’m incredibly proud of what our teams were able to accomplish and how they carried themselves throughout the year.”