By JULIA WHEELEHAN
With the first swim meet of the season this past weekend, UT swimmers defeated Rollins, with the men’s swim team earning a score of 179-75, to UT, Tampa coming first twelve races. The women’s swim team did just as well, with a final score of 183-62, Tampa coming first in fourteen races. Overall, it seems that the home turf helped for any of those with pre-game jitters.
Around the same time last year both teams played Rollins and, of course, both won. Spartan swimmers on the men’s team finishing with 176-74, and the women’s team finishing with 166-84.
With it being the first meet of the year, newcomers are eager to prove their abilities on the team, as evidenced by freshman swimmer Luke Maxwell. As a newcomer into a tightknit community, he’s already felt welcomed into the ranks of the University of Tampa Spartans. Maxwell said, “I felt like I had immediate friends, the men’s team is like one big family.”
Brady Stabler swims side by side Maxwell on the men’s team and is just as enthusiastic to be on the team. “I’ve really enjoyed being on the team so far,” he added, agreeing with Maxwell, “the team is really close.”
As Maxwell and Stabler make the transition from high school swimming to university swimming, Maxwell pointed out that, “Everything is definitely magnified, the workouts are harder, and the competition is way more intense.”
Stabler joined in, saying, “Everyone always pushes each other during training, which are things that are important to me.” Clearly, winning is something they all strive towards, an important goal in a high intensity sport like swimming.
Stabler made headlines at the swim meet this weekend when he won the 200 butterfly at a speedy time of 1:54.93. Stabler made it look easy, however, inside he was a bundle of nerves. “I definitely felt the nerves because it was my first individual college race,” he admitted, but regardless of nerves, he nonetheless excelled.
Yet as the season will grow to be more challenging, Maxwell believes that the team will be there for each other with plenty of support, something he missed out on during his time in high school, adding, “Even though everything is more difficult, I have so much more support from my team, which helps out a ton.”
The next swim meet is going to be a home game against Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The last time the teams played against SCAD, the women won 162-100 and the men w on 175-86, and Maxwell definitely believes that a repeat is possible, saying, “The team as a whole is pretty confident in beating SCAD.” And the win on Saturday has only boosted their resolve, Maxwell pointed out, adding, “And based off of Saturday I don’t see why we wouldn’t.”
Stabler agreed, inputting, “SCAD has a pretty solid squad, I think I will go a bit faster against them.” Then Stabler mentioned that he set a personal goal for himself. “I hope to do as good or better at each meet,” he confided, something that seems doable, given the amount dedication the freshman gives to the men’s swim team.
Freshman swimmer, Jessica Blanchard, agreed with the boys. “I was both excited and nervous, but once we started … I was excited to race,” she said.
Seeing as it was their first race, they all definitely felt the pressure of doing well for the start of the season. Blanchard noted, “It’s definitely a different atmosphere. I feel like it’s more competitive and more serious.”
But Blanchard is also looking forward. “I feel pretty confident about the rest of the season,” she admitted. The women’s team is nationally ranked at 14 in the NCAA’s and they feel like a chance at getting in the top ten nationally is not a hard goal to achieve.
Edward Brennan of the women’s team seemed to agree. “The women are … better largely due to our best freshman class in years,” he admitted, remembering that more than a quarter of the team is made up of new freshmen swimmers.
Brennan also is planning out the route to the championships, pushing the women’s team to achieve their personal best by December, so that they are ready for the NCAA’s, where coaches “are looking for top 10 finishes from both teams at NCAA’s in March,” he added.
Julia Wheelehan can be reached at email@example.com