‘Nova swims into the record books

Santo Caruso

Records fell and so did the Orangewomen, as the ’Cats swam by Syracuse 133-109 on Saturday. The win was highlighted by senior Maddy Crippen breaking three pool records and junior Rebecca Koch breaking one.

Crippen’s records were in the 100-yard breaststroke, the 400 IM and the 1000-yard freestyle. Koch’s came in the 500-yard freestyle, a race in which she owns the Villanova record as well.

The week before the women were able to beat St. John’s in Jamaica, N.Y. with stellar efforts from Koch, Trista Felty and Amanda Jackson. These three all had two first place finishes against the Red Storm in last week’s meet.

The huge wins over St. John’s and Syracuse left Villanova with only one loss in the Big East and only two losses overall heading into the Big East Invitational. The women look to cruise through the tournament and gain a birth to the NCAA Championships.

“The Big East and NCAAs are certainly the pinnacle of our season,” head coach Rick Simpson said. “We have solid upfront performers in almost every event, so we look to be very competitive. Our goals are very clear: Individual Big East event titles, the 800 free relay title, NCAA qualifications and US National qualifications. We feel very confident in our ability to achieve all objectives.”

Pittsburgh, who earlier this season handed ’Nova its only Big East loss, seemed to think differently. On Jan. 18 the Panthers beat the Wildcats 129-113, despite powerful efforts from both Crippen and Koch. With few of the other schools in the conference challenging ’Nova, it hopes to build on the momentum from its most recent wins and swim past Pittsburgh next time around.

“I’m quite confident that the ‘A’ game will once again be in the pool come Big East time,” Simpson said.

The men unfortunately have not fared as well as the women, coming close but failing to win any of their dual meets this season. The disappointing season, however, was not without it’s gains as many younger swimmers moved ahead of the pack and established themselves as tough competitors for next season. Also seniors Peter Klimas and Justin Buland had great performances against Notre Dame and St. John’s.

“We are very excited about the future,” Simpson said. “The program has a very storied tradition and the younger athlete look forward to carrying the torch.”

Outside of seniors Klimas, Buland, Andrew Harbuck and Adam Walchak, the Wildcats are very young, with many freshmen who will hopefully develop over the next three years.

“Our younger guys made some tremendous gains in a short amount of time,” Simpson said. “This was evident back in December at Princeton when so many of our guys stepped up and had personal bests. The experience that they gained swimming at this level will continue to help them move to a higher level.”

The men hope they will be able to find more success next year and look to bring a winning team back to the their side of the pool. The women will travel to New Brunswick, N.J., tomorrow for the Big East tournament. The team will try to bring the Big East title back to the Main Line for the first time in many years.