Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass swimming and diving pushing theme of intensity as regular season draws to a close

Men's and women's swim and dive both fell to Army at Boyden on Friday night, Oct. 14, 2016. ( Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
Men’s and women’s swim and dive both fell to Army at Boyden on Friday night, Oct. 14, 2016. (Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

When a competitive team nears the end of its regular season and begins to approach the winner-takes-all championship events, the excitement surrounding the group is almost tangible.

For the Massachusetts swimming and diving teams, the culmination of the 2016-2017 season is steadily approaching and the Atlantic-10 championships in mid-February sit just around the corner.

At this point in the season, athletes on both teams are putting in a larger and more rigorous amount of work than ever before in preparation for taking part in the highest level of competition in the conference.

With this increase in workload, one might look to the scores at last weekend’s competition in Hanover, New Hampshire, and be disappointed with the numerical results.

In their respective competitions, both the Minutemen and Minutewomen fell by final scores of 177-159 and 202-133 respectively.

But the scoreboard doesn’t always tell the whole story of what actually took place, as several swimmers and divers put up notable performances in the loss.

For the Minutemen, strong showings from Al Madden and Oliver Wyeth highlighted the action.

Coming off two first place finishes in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke in a dual-meet with Bryant the week before,

adden nearly matched his impressive outing last weekend at Dartmouth.

In the 100-yard breaststroke, Madden swam a 58.71 and was able to secure the top spot. In the 200-yard event, a time of 2:10.61 wasn’t enough for the freshman to claim the number one spot and finished second in the competition.

Head coach Russ Yarworth likes what he’s seen out of Madden so far in his first season as part of the program, especially the commitment he has shown to moving out of his comfort zone in the water.

“It’s a different event for him and he’s learning every day,” Yarworth said. “He’s essentially a sprinter so the 200 is a little bit over distance for him, but he’s got the mental toughness and willingness to do it.”

Success was found for Oliver Wyeth who continued his dominant swimming this season. The junior placed first in both the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events, with times of 51.30 and 1:51.95.

“He’s a special athlete and a competitor that doesn’t like to lose. He has what a coach wants and is a good team leader,” Yarworth said of the third-year swimmer from New Zealand.

Wyeth wasn’t the only notable UMass swimmer making waves in the 100-yard backstroke, though, as he was followed in second and third by Kellen Gray and Connar Patterson, with times of 52.52 and 52.64.

On the diving boards, Trent Kindvall took second place in the one-meter dive with a score of 273.

The Minutemen finish up their regular season action this upcoming weekend when they travel to the Bronx to take on Fordham in a dual meet.

As the A-10 championships approach, Yarworth is looking for his team to ramp up the energy and intensity that they bring with them into and throughout a long meet.

“[Fordham’s] an A-10 team and when we go in there I want to see intensity, maintained concentration, focus and power throughout the whole meet,” Yarmouth said.

Minutewomen fall at Dartmouth Invite despite impressive showing in the pool

Heading into the Dartmouth Invite, the Minutewomen endured what head coach Bob Newcomb labeled one of the hardest weeks of the season.

“I was very pleased with how they responded to the kind of training and racing that they did in such a short time,” Newcomb said. “These guys have worked so hard and it’s been really fun to watch them race.”

One of the most impressive performances of the day came from Olga Egkorova who competed in four separate events.

The freshman from Athens placed third in three of the four events she raced in: the 400 IM, 200 butterfly and the lengthy 1,650-yard freestyle. She also competed in the 500 freestyle.

“She’s a very talented, diverse athlete who can swim a variety of events. She brings a smile into practice and works hard every day,” said Newcomb of Egkorova.

In the 200-yard backstroke event, Meghan Gray and Maddie Biron placed first and second with times of 2:07.76 and 2:10.13 respectively.

For Gray, a freshman from New Hampshire, the first place finish was the first of her young career.

“The 200 backstroke is her specialty and to see her get her first collegiate win, I was pretty happy with that,” said Newcomb.

Minutewomen divers swept the three-meter event, as Emma Roush placed first with a 296.93, followed by Katie Polk and Maja Boric with scores of 257.85 and 249.90.

When asked about the team’s anticipation for the upcoming A-10 championships, Newcomb couldn’t downplay the excitement.

“Oh yeah, we’re 23 days away,” he exclaimed.

Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected].

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