Swimming and diving gears up for BIG EAST tournament



Kevin Gamgort

It’s that time of the year again as the men’s and women’s Swimming and Diving team preps for the 2017 BIG EAST Championship in Long Island.

The Wildcats finished their regular season strong as they held their annual ‘Nova Sprint Festival against La Salle. This event took place on Senior Day, as Villanova’s 10 seniors were recognized for their contributions and success throughout the past four years. Not only was the event nostalgic and beneficial for team morale, but it was also great preparation for the BIG EAST Championship.

“This time of the year, it is important for our athletes to stay sharp, both physically and mentally,” Head Coach Rick Simpson said.

The event was a time of reunion, as former swimming and diving alumni were in attendance, as well as the current athletes parents. The Wildcat pride was roaring as the team went head-to-head with the Explorers. 

Coach Simpson is currently in his 17th year as head coach of the swimming and diving team at Villanova. Over the past few years, the team has risen to become one of the more dominant programs in the BIG EAST, with a growing reputation for excellence. The team looks to continue this exponential upward trend with a successful performance and potential overall win in the BIG EAST Championship this year.

At the 2016 BIG EAST Swimming and Diving Championship, the Villanova Wildcats took home many accolades with an outstanding performance. The women’s team won an astounding 11 of the 13 individual events, sweeping all five relay events.

 This success led to their eighth BIG EAST Championship. Current senior Emily Mayo had an incredible performance by winning the individual 500 free (4:46.37) and the 1,650 free (16:35.38) at last year’s championship. She was also an integral member of the 800 Free Relay team that took home first place honors. 

The Wildcats will have to find a way to recover from the loss of Kaisla Kollanus, who graduated last year. She won three individual events (50 Free, 100 Free, 200 Free) and was the anchoring member on four of the winning relay teams. However, the success of current sophomores Darby Goodwin and Alexandra Fabbri in last year’s championship prove that the future is very bright and that the history of excellence is also very much a reality. The women’s team will look to win the BIG EAST Championship for a fourth straight year. 

On the other hand, the men’s team fell short of their goals last year. Although it has a strong roster and powerhouse seniors, this year’s team looks to set out and achieve what it intended to last year. It strives to match the projected success of the women’s team.

This year’s men’s team has a very strong lineup, yet it’s going to take a complete team effort to pull off a win in the competitive BIG EAST men’s conference. Some of these returning competitive teams include Xavier and Seton Hall, who dominated individual and relay events in the 2016 Championship. 

The diving team is an incredibly young class, as four of the five members are freshmen and the fifth is a sophomore. In last year’s championship, Gabby Signorelli of Seton Hall won both women’s diving events and Georgetown swept the men’s events. Although the team is young, it looks forward to using this experience to benefit them both now and in the future. 

The Wildcats look forward to competing in the upcoming BIG EAST Championship with the expectation to fulfill their prior success.