Swimming endures mixed results on the road



Claire Ferry


The men and women’s swimming and diving teams went on the road last Friday to seek out top competition. The women (7-1, 2-0 Big East) came out of the weekend with three wins, while the men (2-6, 1-2 Big East) fell to the dominant Big-12 program of West Virginia.

A total distance of 850 miles traveled over the weekend did not throw the women as they took on Iowa State and West Virginia on Friday and Richmond on Saturday.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge for the women just because of the structure of the weekend,” Coach Rick Simpson commented. “We did it purposely to create a situation of adversity for the women to work through.”

They certainly handled the five-hour bus ride well, defeating Iowa State 173-124 and West Virginia 175-122 in their first meet since early December.  

Darby Goodwin, Elise Pidutti, Fiona Hardie and Alexa Fabbri made a statement by opening the meet with a victory in the 400 medley relay.  They touched the wall with a time of 3:51.46.

“That opening relay is very important,” Simpson said. “It tends to set a tone for the day.”

‘Nova rode the momentum of that first victory, collecting 10 first-place, seven second-place and four third-place total wins on Friday.  

The women’s success just ahead of Iowa State in the final relay of the night, the 200 yard free, secured the overall victories.

Several Wildcats contributed key performances to oust the Mountaineers and Cyclones.  Notably, Goodwin won the 100 back with a time of 56.42 seconds and the 200 back by a close margin of 23 hundredths of a second.  Senior Kaisla Kollanus had a stellar evening as well, winning the 500, 100 and 200 freestyle races. 

 Again hitting the road Saturday morning, the women continued their dominance at Richmond.

The Wildcats won 11 of the 16 total events on Saturday, earning a 177-121 victory over the Spiders. 

The trio of Fabbri, Jessie Randolph and Mary Snyder swept the 200 freestyle, respectively. Goodwin again won the 100 and 200 backstroke, while Kollanus took first in the 50 and 100 freestyle.  

Kollanus’ impressive weekend was enough to earn her Big East Swimmer of the Week honors for the fourth time this season.  The 2015 Big East Swimmer of the Year continues to prove her dominance in high-pressure scenarios. 

“Kaisla tends to be our go-to,” Simpson offered. “She’s an athlete that steps up and performs in clutch situations.”

While the women posted impressive wins over their opponents, the men fell to a very talented Big-12 West Virginia team (200-77). 

Despite the loss, several Wildcats swam right alongside the competition. 

Freshman Luke Sabal and sophomore Jake Hoin both stepped up, taking second and third in the 100 fly, respectively. Sabal was a mere 29 hundredths of a second from claiming first.

‘Nova also benefitted from the upperclassmen leadership of senior Nikolai Tchobanov and junior Harrison Rodts.  They also took second and third in the 400 IM, while Tchobanov placed third in the 200 breaststroke and Rodst finished second in the 1000 freestyle.

“The West Virginia men are a great Big 12 program,” Simpson said. “Our guys did a great job of stepping up to their level.  It will make them better athletes in the long run.”

Both the men and women’s teams will return to action this Saturday, traveling to Penn State.

According to the CSCAA Poll, the Nittany Lions rank 20th in women’s Division 1 swimming.  Our women will certainly have their hands full, but Simpson is excited to face such elite competition.

“I think we can do a great job of hanging with them,” he commented. “Without a doubt, they’re the toughest opponent we’ve faced up to this point.”

While the women will return home on Sunday for their senior day against LIU Brooklyn, the men will use the meet at Penn State as their final opportunity to fine-tune before the conference championship.

Both teams will certainly have their sights set on the Big East championships approaching quickly in late February.