BY CAROLINE BOLLETINO
On Nov. 10, the Sacred Heart University women’s swimming and diving team dedicated their meet against Assumption College to epilepsy awareness, in support of teammate, junior Bryana Cielo. Cielo, who is the Features editor on the Spectrum, was recently diagnosed with epilepsy, and can no longer swim competitively.
According to epilepsy.com, epilepsy is a neurological condition which affects the nervous system. It is also known as a seizure disorder. It is usually diagnosed after a person has had at least two seizures that were not caused by some known medical condition.
“I am so thankful that my team has been by my side throughout everything,” said Cielo. “They [teammates]all have done an amazing job in understanding what the disorder is and supporting all of those who have it.”
The meet began with a speech from Cielo about her personal experience and diagnosis. The swimmers set up the pool area with purple decorations and posters they had made together as a team. They also wore purple ribbon tattoos and stickers that they shared with the opposing team.
“The atmosphere of the event was truly amazing,” said junior Kimberly Hylan. “The swim team, spectators, and even the opposing swim team all came together to show support for Bryana and everyone who has been diagnosed with epilepsy.”
November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Head coach John Spadafina said awareness for epilepsy really hits home for him and the team.
“Not many people are aware of how this disease affects those diagnosed and the reaction when people witness someone having a seizure,” said Hylan.
Cielo said one in 26 people have epilepsy and one in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime. Epilepsy awareness allows people to understand what a seizure is and how to react to one.
“I’m glad that our team was able to raise awareness for such a good cause,” said Lauren Somers. “It was also great to be able to support a cause that has impacted our team.”
The team won the meet 162-115. Spadafina said the team swam well. Somers was a quadruple winner, and both Hylan and Emily Peter won three events.
“The team has been working really hard this season. Every day at practice we are working towards our goals as a team, as well as individual goals,” said Hylan.
The Northeast Conference Championship will take place in February, and the team is preparing for it now.
“All of our work in and out of the pool is aimed at preparing us to perform the best we can at NECs,” said Somers.
The team has made improvements this season. The win over Assumption, who has beaten Sacred Heart in previous years, was a win that Somers said will ensure Sacred Heart a winning season.
The team is looking to score a lot of points in their upcoming meets. On Nov. 30, the team will compete at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Winter Championship all weekend, their most important meet before the NECs.
The team also looks on continuing to raise awareness for Cielo and others who have epilepsy.
“Epilepsy has become an important cause for our team and I would like to see us continue to support Bryana and raise awareness for Epilepsy in the future,” said Somers.