By John Flanigan
This past weekend, the Sacred Heart women’s swimming team opened their season with a dual meet, at Central Connecticut State University.
The Pioneers fell 200-137 to CCSU, and 242-105 to St. Bonaventure, in the two-day meet.
Although the season didn’t start out on the right foot for the team as a whole, the Pioneers were handed some strong performances throughout the meet.
Competing in her first race as a Pioneer, freshman Margaret Flaherty, placed second in both the 500 and 1,000 meter freestyle.
“I was excited. I was swimming against a girl I had grown up with, so there was definitely excitement that was mixed with nerves,” said Flaherty.
According to the Sacred Heart Athletic Communications press release, Flaherty’s time in the 1,000 meter freestyle of 10:45:71, was fast enough to set a school record. The record was previously held by Christine DePierro, who had held a time of 10:47:57.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Flaherty. “The first thing I did after I broke the record was say, ‘oh, okay.’ Then I texted my dad and he said, ‘you know that is a 13-year-old record you just broke.’ It’s a lot bigger of a record than I had first thought it would be.”
Flaherty wasn’t the only Pioneer underclassman to have a successful meet. Sophomore Lauren Somers, defeated all of her NEC competitions of the weekend, placing second in all of her events.
“I was pretty excited to start the season off like that. It set up some good momentum for the rest of the year,” said Somers.
In fact, Somers’ performance was good enough for her to be named Co-NEC Swimmer of the Week. Her time of 1:53:59 was three seconds quicker than any other NEC competitor in the 200 meter freestyle.
In the 100 meter freestyle, she turned in a NEC season best time of 52:52. And in the 50 meter freestyle, Somers turned in a top-five NEC performance by touching the wall at 24:66.
“I wasn’t thinking that I would start this season off well. It helps me to set certain goals to keep striving for the rest of the season,” said Somers.
The team’s roster this season, mainly consists of underclassmen. On a roster of 26 swimmers, 11 women are sophomores, and four are freshmen.
“I think they [the underclassmen]are doing a very good job so far. Their times were very impressive. It’s only going to get better as the season goes along,” said the team’s head coach, John Spadafina.
After going 9-2 last year, Spadafina made some changes this offseason.
“We added St. Bonaventure, an Atlantic-10 team, early on in our schedule, to give our team a little bit more competition,” said Spadafina. We added Central Connecticut, twice. We will swim against them again, later on in the year.”
Spadafina also made some changes to the swimmers’ training style, in the hopes of better preparing the team for the season.
“Both Molly, my assistant coach, and myself, were able to maneuver and split apart groups in order to simplify things a little bit more for the team, which will enhance their training,” said Spadafina.
In spite of the changes made to the team’s training, the swimmers have not been fazed.
“They’ve done very well so far, but the best part about it, is that there is room to grow every single day, and every single practice,” said Spadafina.