Owen Wright gives outstanding performance for UMass swimming despite loss against Brown

By Mollie Walker

(Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)
(Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts swimming and diving team suffered a tough loss against Brown Saturday, falling 203-95 against the Bears in a lopsided contest.

But regardless of the outcome for the Minutemen, sophomore Owen Wright stood out amongst the team by placing either first or second in all three of his events – even though he wasn’t 100 percent healthy.

“Last weekend I actually had the flu and felt as though all my performances were off,” Wright said.

Luckily for UMass, Wright’s “under the weather” performance was still more than exceptional.

He took first in the 100-meter freestyle (46.56 seconds) and placed second in the 50-meter freestyle (21.13 seconds) and 200-meter freestyle (1:43.30).

“Owen’s a competitor, he’s a kid that we can rely on, and when it’s time to race he’s going to bring it to the pool,” Minutemen coach Russ Yarworth said.

Wright started his swimming career at Attleboro High School where he competed on varsity for four years. He was a three-time Hockomock League all-star and was named the 2012-13 All-Scholastic Swimmer of the Year by the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.

“I started seriously competing in the eighth grade for a local YMCA team called Tsunami Swim Team,” Wright recalled. “Just before going into high school, I became good enough at competing that I was able to join a local club team named Attleboro Bluefish Swim Club.”

Now in college, Wright is a social thought and political economy major and one of the leaders of the Minutemen as only a sophomore.

“It’s obviously good for us to have a level swimmer like that, who’s also very competitive,” Yarworth said with a smile. “He wants to win every time and he’s also a great young man.”

As a freshman, Wright was first team all-conference for the Atlantic 10 in the 800-meter free relay and second team all-conference in the 200-meter medley relay. He set the school record in the 100 IM at the A-10 championship meet with a time of 1:49.22 in the preliminary round (he would finish fourth in the final). Wright also posted the fourth-fastest swims in the 100-meter freestyle (44.88, fifth place in finals) and 200-meter freestyle (1:38.37 in the 800m free relay leadoff).

This year in the month of October, Wright was named the UMass student-athlete of the week along with UMass hockey’s Austin Plevy and men’s soccer’s Mark Morris. Wright was honored after he spearheaded the Minutemen to a win at the Colgate Fall Classic to open UMass’ fall season.

With the fall season wrapping up and a successful two months behind him, Wright said the focus is on improving for the winter season as the Minutemen try to defend their A-10 title.

“I hope to train harder and enjoy being fortunate enough to compete for the school all while improving,” Wright commented on his outlook for the rest of the season.

Yarworth has high expectations for the standout sophomore for the upcoming weekend at the Terrier Invitational hosted by Boston University.

“We’ve been working on his power this year and he’s been more into swimming the freestyle a little bit more than he did last year, so we’re hoping to see that manifest itself at the Terrier Invitational,” Yarworth said.

The Minutemen have won the invitational four times in the last nine years – in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2012 – and collected a third place finish in 2013. Last year the team finished in a close second place.

“I hope to break all my best times and set a school record in the 100 Free and reset my record in the 200IM,” Wright said. “Right now I’m doing as much as I can to fully recover from the flu.”

The Terrier Invitational will begin Friday at 10 a.m. in Boston.

Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected].