Pioneers Make a Splash on Senior Day

The Sacred Heart University (SHU) swimming and diving team held their annual senior day on Feb. 4 defeating Merrimack College 186-74 at the McCann Natatorium in Milford.

SHU’s seven seniors were honored during a ceremony before the meet.  It was the team’s final meet before they compete for the Northeast Conference (NEC) championship from Feb. 21-25. The seniors were a big part of the team’s identity this season and they ultimately helped propel the team to victory on Senior Day.

“I am grateful to this university to help me meet so many wonderful people. With swimming and diving, I am especially grateful,” said senior Kelly Bartnett. “The team is so supportive and kind, I am very glad to have spent these 4 years with my team and at this university.”

Bartnett won twice, once in the 200 freestyle and another in the 100 freestyle against Merrimack.

“Ever since move-in day I have loved Sacred Heart, being on the swimming and diving team has made it an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world,” said senior Casey Barrett. “My teammates are like family to me.”

Barrett also won twice, winning the 100m backstroke and the 200m individual medley.

While swimming is largely considered an “individual” sport, Bartnett says that isn’t the case.

“Doing something for the team is much more rewarding than doing something for yourself. Swimming is classified as an ‘individual’ sport, and we are taught that until college,” said Bartnett. “As the program goes on, you find out that it’s more of a team sport than anyone realizes. I believe this is a good lesson for the future, where doing something for somebody else will always be more rewarding than doing something for yourself,” said Kelly Bartnett.

Being a Division 1 athlete is more than just performing in your select sport. You pick up life lessons along the way from your coaches, teammates and competitors, lessons that you take with you for the rest of your life.

“Being a Division 1 athlete has taught me a lot of things throughout these four years but the main lessons I have learned are organization, discipline, and the ability to work hard,” said Bartnett

As a senior, Barrett and the rest of her senior class went through their fair share of adversity. However, she is proud of the way they adapted and grew from the struggles.

“The seniors impacted our program in a positive way. They were all freshmen when Covid-19 came and changed our way of living,” said Barrett. “Their adjustments and buying into the program was different year-by-year and they did it which showed resilience.”

Head coach John Spadafina believes his team is ready for the NEC Championships and is peaking at just the right time.

“It’s not how you start but how you finish. We had a rough start. Some injuries early, but we were training very well,” said Spadafina. “Our divers were crushing it all season and our swimmers were following the plan but the dual meet results didn’t equate to the hard work they were putting in. With our mid- Season invite results and how we trained during the training trip, the results are now coming to fruition at the right time”

The NEC Championships take place over five days, from Feb. 21-25 in Geneva, Ohio. 

“There is an old saying that ‘hay is in the barn,’” Spadafina said. “The work is done, so it’s time to refine our skills, have fun and perform.”

Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.

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