Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier Sports Editor
|Bailey Albertson | CAMPUS CARRIER|
|Sophomore Josie Hadaway competes in the SAA conference swim meet. The swimming and diving team made program history at the meet last week.|
With the women placing third and the men placing fourth, Berry’s swim and dive team had one of the program’s most successful SAA Conference Championship performances in their history last week.
Swimmers broke both personal, program and conference records to lead them to over 12 All-Conference honors, a Newcomer of the Year to freshman Brooke Boyd and the SAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Coach of the year to head coach Paul Flinchbaugh.
Out of the gate, the men’s team faced the challenge of numbers. With only 13 swimmers and no divers, the team had to make up for the 18 point scorers a school can compete with. According to both junior captain Cory Mullins and junior co-captain Leigh Hadaway, swimmers were forced to compete in events they typically do not prefer.
“We have one of the smaller, if not the smallest men’s team in our conference,” Mullins said. “So not having that number is really huge because that could be potentially 10-15 points in only one swimmer.”
However, Mullins said team members banded together and worked hard to compete with larger teams like Birmingham Southern College or Centre College, which ultimately resulted in their impressive fourth-place finish with 503 points.
“Our team has a good amount of depth in it, being as small as we are,” Mullins said.
On the other hand, the women’s third-place finish with 658 points was the highest amount the team has ever placed in the Conference Championships. According to Hadaway, they had high expectations and motivation going into the tournament.
“We knew we could get top three,” Hadaway said. “That was our big goal.”
Hadaway said a big contributing factor to their success was fast swims in unexpected events; for instance, the team did not anticipate Hadaway’s sophomore sister Josie Hadaway to win the 200-yard IM and set a new team record.
Keeping neck-and-neck with Centre up until the last session, the women sealed their third position in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last race of the conference.
“It was a really surreal moment,” Hadaway said. “We knew we could get third and we worked really hard the whole meet, but solidifying that position was insane.”
Going into the Championships, both Hadaway and Mullins noted the importance of resting the weekends before conference, but both sentimental and anxious energy increased before last Wednesday. The mix of energy came from the large group of experienced seniors in combination with the freshman who were competing in conference for the first time.
“That was really special because we have a lot of seniors who have been there and knew what to expect,” Hadaway said. “Then we have a lot of new excitement from the freshmen.”
In regards to next season, both Mullins and Hadaway said their graduating seniors were notable point sorcerers, but they anticipate success from this year’s freshman class.
Mullins hopes that before he graduates he will see another second-place finish as he experienced his freshmen year. Mullins said the men’s team also hopes to increase their numbers.
Both men’s and women’s teams are looking to use the success and encouragement from this year to inspire success in the next season.
“Even though some parts of the season were very tough, it’s motivating for next year to see that the hard work will pay off,” Hadaway said.
Additionally, Twelve Berry swimmers received recognition to SAA All-Conference teams and honorable mention.
On the women’s side, freshman Brooke Boyd and sophomore Josie Hadaway were named to the first team, while freshmen Maggie Hogsted and Sydney Ragsdale, sophomore SarahPierce and senior Haley Brown placed on the second team.
On the mens team, freshman Michael Bemis received first-team honors, and freshmen Dylan White and Laramie Sellers, sophomore Jackson Parker, junior Cory Mullins and senior Mac Stovall received honorable mention recognition.