Maroons Look to Start New Year Strong

The Maroons’ swimming teams look set to compete for the first time this year against Lewis University and Olivet Nazarene.

By Mike Beninati

The men's and women's swimming and diving teams will face off against Lewis University and Olivet Nazarene University at a meet tonight. Neither of the Maroon swimming and diving teams have competed since November 19. However, that last competition resulted in a compelling first-place finish for both teams in the Phoenix Fall Classic, consisting of 12 schools for the men and 13 for the women. The men outpaced second place by 455 points while the women won by 383 points—both performances were dominant and resulted in five school records. 

After those record-breaking performances, it comes as no surprise that the Maroons were awarded with some honors. Second-years Taye Baldinazzo and Byrne Litschgi for the men’s team and first-year Gillian Gagnard of the women's team earned National Swimmer of the Week awards. 

Lewis University enters the competition with a 5–6 record and having dropped their last three meets. However, Lewis is a DII school that competes against some strong teams. The Maroons will likely be tested by standout first-year Adam Tapia, who is coming off a win in the 500-yard freestyle in Lewis’ trip to Denmark for the Indian River Winter Invitational. 

Olivet Nazarene will also prove to be a worthy foe. The team competes against several large DI schools such as Notre Dame and Xavier. Olivet Nazarene’s strongest female swimmer is Andrea Vega, named NAIA swimmer of the month in December. Vega holds top five finishes in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 200 IM, and 400 IM. Another strong competitor for the women will be first-year Jordan Enders of the Tigers who was awarded College Swimming’s Swimmer of the Week at the start of December. 

Although the Maroons have not competed in over a month, they feel more than confident that they will not lose their stride. First-year Tiffany Wu said, “We’re coming off a week of intense training in Florida and feel ready to jump back into things.”  

Second-year Audrey Mason added to that, saying, “This season has been full of ups and downs just like any other, but the team has been training really hard for the past few months. We’re getting ready for UAAs in February, so this meet is in the middle of many tough practices, but still expect everyone to swim well.” 

The men’s team holds the same confidence and excitement—Baldinazzo said, “We are ready to show up at the meet this week. We have put in a lot of good training and effort going into this, and I’m confident that it’ll come out this weekend. I’m particularly excited to watch some of our swimmers who are swimming in ‘off’ events and have recently undergone extreme technique changes. I can guarantee it will be a very good meet for everyone attending.”

The message is consistent: The Maroons are ready to be back in action and display all the hard work they have been putting in as of late.