Strong showings creating high hopes for Wildcats

Michael Zipf

On Feb. 11, the swimming and diving team sent several swimmers and divers to Rutgers University for the Big East Last Chance Invite. The representatives at the Invite carried with them a very positive performance from their last meeting with Syracuse University.

Heading into the meet, the coaching staff had rested many of the swimmers, which allowed several swimmers and divers to post extremely strong showings. For many, this event marked the pinnacle of their individual seasons.

When evaluating his team’s performance, head coach Rick Simpson said he was extremely proud of team’s effort and performance especially the swimming of sophomore Zach Rambo.

“What Zach did at the Big East Last Chance Invite was truly remarkable considering that he had taken a year off from swimming,” Simpson said. “To swim at such a competitive level without experiencing this type of competition for a whole year says a lot about Zach’s determination, skill and character.”

Rambo and junior Mike Kernicky, along with captains David Drysdale and James Harrell, will compete in the 200 free relay at the Big East Championships, which began on Feb. 15 and ends on Sunday.

As the team heads towards the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, N.Y., the site of the Big East Championships, it has high expectations. The Villanova women’s swim team is in contention for All-Big East honors, placing six swimmers as one of the top six seeds in their events.

Leading the way for the Wildcats is junior Jenny Somerville, who is seeking to capture her third 1,650 freestyle title.

In addition, junior Annie Kelley looks to earn victories in the 200 IM, 400 IM and the 200 backstroke, while fellow teammate Kristina Lenox looks to notch victories in the 500 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 200 fly.

The Wildcats also boast a strong group of newcomers who are looking to earn some recognition in their first Big East Championships. Freshmen divers Lindsay Davis and Danielle Trinker are seeded No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the three-meter event and are hoping to capture top place finishes.

The men’s team also includes a strong group of representatives headed by junior Ryan McKenna, who qualified for the 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Captain David Drysdale is the team’s highest seeded swimmer, securing the 13th position in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 57.94.

Fellow senior captain Matt McLaughlin and freshman Gene Noone round out the rest of the qualifiers, with McLaughlin qualifying for the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle and Noone the 200 breaststroke.

Heading into the championships coach Simpson said he was extremely pleased with his team’s performances and the strengths they carried into the tournament, but he recognized that the team needed to continue to make improvements to overcome their lack of depth.

“We have a lot of upfront speed but, because we are a relatively small team, we will need a lot of strong individual performances to overcome our lack of depth,” Simpson said.

With their recent strong performances against Syracuse and at the Big East Last Chance Invite, the team seems poised to overcome this lack of depth and be a major threat at the Big East Championship.