By: Dominic Caporale
Breaking school records is not a new thing for the Sacred Heart women’s swimming and diving team. Since head coach John Spadafina took over four years ago, he has led the girls to nothing more than success.
The Pioneers were in last place in the Northeast Conference (NEC), before Spadafina. Since then, himself and his student athletes have broken 50 school records in four years, and 9 of those came from the NEC Championships this past weekend in East Meadow, N.Y., where the Pioneers closed out their season. At the NEC Championships, the team took sixth place.
Freshman Emily Peter, junior Jessica Poole, sophomore Lauren Somers and senior Anna Brown, all set school records in the 200-medley relay. Peter also broke the school record on her way to a ninth-place finish, touching at 57.48 to beat the time of 57.89 from Katie Marshall in 2011.
“The dynamic of the team this year is just great, and next year it will be even better,” said Peter.
Sophomore Nikole Rudis went through the match marking her own two personal best records by swimming a personal best of 58.39 to qualify for tenth in the 100 butterfly. Then again swimming a career best of 1:01.18 in the 100 backstroke.
Along with her teammates, freshman Margaret Flaherty had a weekend to remember. Flaherty set a school record in the 500-freestyle, beating the previous record of Jillian Crosby in 2015.
Also, Flaherty broke the 1,000 and 1,650-yard freestyle records on her way to earning a bronze medal. The 1,650-yard record was the oldest in the books at Sacred Heart and had existed since 2004.
“It brought me to tears,” said Flaherty. “This is just the beginning for us, and especially me. I know us as a team and me individually, we just want to keep doing what we’re doing, like breaking school records and having success.”
“It was a lot of fun, and the energy was great. Everybody was up on their feet, screaming and cheering. I felt the excitement,” said Poole.
Spadafina has made improvements and the team is loving it.
“We have a strong freshman class this year and for next year, I can’t wait to see this class grow and the new recruitments come in,” said Poole.
That’s not all the Pioneers accomplished this season. The women are not only having great success in the pool, but also in the classroom. The team was honored as a Division I Scholar All-America Team at the end of January.
“It’s very important we stick to the books too. Our toughest meet (NEC Championships) comes right before midterms, so the focus has to be there and we have it. With the preparation and focus we have, we are a step ahead,” said Spadafina.
The Pioneers have had great success and the athletes leave it in the hands of Spadafina. “We have strong recruitment and next year I know we have athletes coming in to fill the spots of the seniors that are leaving,” said Flaherty.
The Pioneers graduate only three seniors this year and plan to add four more to their roster next fall. They signed three swimmers and one diver. As the diving team started one year ago, the Pioneers are having great success.
“I can’t wait for next season, It’s going to be even better,” said Flaherty.