UMass men’s and women’s swimming and diving optimistic at midway point

By Victor Pusateri

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have reached their halfway point for the season and now have the next month off from competitions.

Through the first half of the season, the Minutemen went 1-3 in head-to-head meets and finished second out of five teams at the Terrier Invitational from Nov. 21-23.

UMass’ lone win came against Binghamton in a two-day meet from Oct. 31-Nov. 1, while its losses came against Army, Boston University and Brown.

Despite their record, the Minutemen have seen a few swimmers that exceeded expectations in the fall. In particular, freshman Oliver Wyeth has stood out in backstroke and freestyle events.

The Wellington, New Zealand, native has won six individual events, has been part of a 400-yard freestyle relay team that placed first on Nov. 8 and broke the UMass school record for the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 49.11 seconds.

Wyeth also took home Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors on Nov. 11 following his performance at Brown where he contributed to three first-place finishes.

Junior Alessandro Bomprezzi said that he has been impressed with Wyeth, as well as with the six other freshmen this season.

“The performances by the freshman class at the Boston Invitational impressed me,” Bomprezzi said. “Oliver Wyeth breaking the school record in the 100 backstroke in the middle of the season really stood out to me.”

As for Bomprezzi, who came off a 2013-2014 season in which he was named UMass’ most valuable player, the junior emerged as a leader for the Minutemen and was arguably their most consistent swimmer.

This season, Bomprezzi has won 12 freestyle events and was named Atlantic 10 men’s swimming and diving performer of the week for his strong outing at the Terrier Invitational, where he finished first in the 500- and 1000-yard freestyle events and second in the 200-yard freestyle.

“I am satisfied with the progress and I don’t think that there was anything that needed to be done differently,” Bomprezzi said.

Minutewomen split early-season slate

The Minutewomen split its first four meets of the season and is currently 2-2 in head-to-head meets. UMass most recently placed first out of five teams at the Terrier Invitational, its first top-finish at the event in program history.

UMass’ two victories came in dominating fashion against Army and Binghamton, but it was blown out by BU and lost by two points against Brown.

Minutewomen coach Bob Newcomb said he was pleased with how the first half ended and is now looking ahead to the second half.

“I’m very happy with where they are and what they are doing. Learn from first half and get better for the second half.” Newcomb said. “We’re trying to get better every day. Where we are right now is a pretty good.”

A large part of the team’s success is sophomore swimmer Meriza Werenski.

In her first 11 races of the season, including the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, 200- and 400-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle, she placed first 10 times.

Werenski’s impressive performance this season was recognized on Nov. 11 when she was named the A-10 Performer of the Week following the meet against the Bears.

In addition, Newcomb said that Molly Smyth has impressed. The senior placed first in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle in UMass’ most recent match.

“(Smyth) is swimming exceptionally right now,” Newcomb said. “She’s swimming at a different level. Breaking three of her own school records at the Terrier Invitational is just amazing.”

Smyth said that she has high hopes for herself and the team as a whole in January’s return to competition. She added that goals as a team, included placing in every relay event and medaling at the A-10 Championships.

“In the second half of the season I would like to see us keep the same attitude and effort going as we had in the first half,” Smyth said. “It is clearly working for us and I think it will only get better.”

The men’s and women’s teams return from their break on Saturday, Jan. 3 when they go to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the Loyola Invitational.

Victor Pusateri can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @victorpusateri.