From Feb. 21-25, the 53 members of Wheaton’s swimming and diving teams took to the water in their single most important competition of the year: the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championship (NEWMAC).
NEWMAC was held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, roughly an hour away from Wheaton College. The event consisted of four exhilarating days of races. When the waters finally cleared on the last day, the Lyons stood high atop the podium, with a second place overall finish for the women’s team and a fifth place finish for the men.
The men’s finish was lower than past years, but head coach Barrett Roberts ’07 explained that they still performed extremely well; only suffering from a disqualifying false start in one of the relays.
As for the women, the second place finish matched their result from the year before. This was, at that time, the highest finish in the program’s history. This achievement came after losing an incredibly strong senior class from the year before; including the NEWMAC swimmer of the year and multiple NCAA champion swimmers.
“Frankly, they exceeded my really high expectations,” said Roberts. Dealing with the void left by the huge personalities from the year before was a challenge for the women’s team all year, but “then they got to championships, and they lit it up from the very first race,” Roberts recapped.
One of the unexpected events of the meet came down to the very last race for the men’s team, where they got a comeback win against conference rivals Springfield College in the 400 relay by one point, beating a school record in the process. “Those guys broke a record that honestly, they probably had no idea they even had that potential to break,” said Roberts. “The place went nuts.”
Another standout performance came from Jacob Cost ’19 and Lydia DaCorte ’21; both All-American athletes and going back to the NCAAs for the second year in a row. DaCorte was named the NEWMAC Swimmer of the Year after taking first in the 400 IM, 500 free, and 1650 free, while also breaking school records in the 500, 1000, and 1650 freestyles. Cost lost both of his big races, the 100 and 200 backstroke, but came in a close second to the number one ranked backstroker in the entire country.
In addition to the student-won laurels, Roberts was awarded the NEWMAC Women’s swimming coach of the year for the third season in a row. “They’re all great kids,” Roberts said. “They make my job really easy.”
These performances will earn most of the limelight, but the Lyons had strong performances across the board. To name just a few, Roberts pointed out “Karaline Gunther ’21, a distance swimmer, was unbelievable for us all weekend. Daniel Roshe ’21 in freestyle was just unbelievable.”
Roberts also had good things to say about the freshman who performed in their first ever NEWMAC. “With the freshman, it’s always challenging,” said Roberts, “because you know we have some talent, but until we get to that championship meet with all that pressure on them, you really don’t know how they are gonna handle it.”