Eighth Straight Big East Title for Women’s Swim and Dive


The team celebrated after winning the title.

Meghann Morhardt, Staff Writer

 competition, the Villanova women’s swim and dive team won the Big East Title. This is the team’s eighth consecutive title, the longest streak in program history. 

The team finished the weekend with 906.5 points, with second place UConn scoring just 838. The ‘Cats earned 11 gold medals over the course of the four days. Seven of these medals came in individual events, while the other five came from victories in four of the five relays. 

The strong performance from the Wildcats started on the first day of competition in which they earned their first two gold medals of the conference championship. The ‘Cats won the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 7:19.35, beating UConn by just three seconds. 

The lineup for the Wildcats in this race was juniors Kelly Montesi, Abbey Berloco, Nicole Welch and senior Milly Routledge. A strong push from Montesi in the final leg of the race, outswimming a UConn swimmer by 5.5 seconds in the last 200 yards, secured the come-from-behind gold medal for the Wildcats. 

Following the win in the 800 freestyle relay, the Wildcat’s tied with Xavier in the 200 medley relay. Villanova had a 0.4 second lead entering the final 50m leg, but the Musketeers were able to make up this deficit to finish even with the ‘Cats. 

Wins in these two races allowed Villanova to finish the day with 77 points, ahead of Xavier who tallied 69 points. 

Villanova carried its momentum into the second and third days of competition earning three medals on day two and two medals on day three. 

Day two started with a win from sophomore diver Danielle Scarano in the one-meter challenge, marking her first Big East title. 

Montesi followed suit with an impressive performance in the 200 individual medley with a winning time of 2:00.90. Villanova had a strong showing in the preliminary rounds giving it four out of the eight competitors in the final round. 

Villanova rounded out the night with a win in the 200 freestyle relay with a lineup of Routledge, Stahl, Berloco and freshman Lexi Elkovitch. 

The ‘Cats also had four swimmers in the final race for the 500 yard freestyle including Welch, senior Emily Provenzo, sophomore Brenna McLaughlin and senior Andrea Fong. Welch and Provenzo both earned medals, coming in second and third place respectively. 

With these medals and the victories in the other three events, the Wildcats added to their point total and finished the day with 347 points, ahead of second place UConn who finished with 276. 

Day three kicked off with Montesi winning her third consecutive 400 Individual Medley, finishing nearly 3.5 seconds ahead of the runner up from UConn. 

The second individual medal on the night for the Wildcats came from Routledge who claimed the gold medal in the 200 free. This race was stacked full of ‘Cats swimmers. Routledge was joined by Welch, who finished second with a personal best time of 1:50.15, as well as Elkovitch, McLaughlin and Berloco. 

Following these two victories, accompanied by a silver medal in the 100 yard breaststroke by sophomore Margaret Kleinsmith, the Wildcats headed into the final day with a point total of 584. 

The final day was the highlight of the weekend for the Wildcats with four total championships that ultimately clinched the outright Big East Title. 

Montesi started the day with a win in the 200 yard butterfly, earning her third individual title of the weekend. Routledge also claimed another individual title in the 100 yard freestyle, marking her second individual title of the weekend. 

The last individual title came from freshman Audrey Pastorek who claimed gold in the 200 yard backstroke, earning her first Big East title. 

The ‘Cats earned one last title in the 400 freestyle relay with a lineup of Montesi, Berloco, Elkovitch and Routledge. 

This victory gives both Routledge and Montesi 17 career Big East titles. Montesi has eight individual and nine relay, while Routledge has five individual and 12 relay titles. 

With this stand-out performance and a total of six gold medals over four days, Montesi was named the women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer for the second time in her career. As a junior, Montesi will have the chance to break more records next year and become one of the most decorated swimmers in Villanova and Big East History. 

Villanova head coach Rick Simpson and his coaching staff were named women’s Coaching Staff of the Year for the eighth consecutive season. 

Villanova is losing five seniors after this season, but with a strong core coming back, the ‘Cats will have a strong chance to repeat next year.