Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass Swimming and Diving to take on BU Saturday

Both teams look to extend winning streak to three

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UMass Swimming and Diving to take on BU Saturday

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Ben Painchaud, Collegian Staff

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Without a home meet before Jan. 12 versus Bryant, the Massachusetts Swimming and Diving teams are about to settle in for a long road stretch.

 The UMass men’s team (2-1, 0-0 Atlantic 10) and women’s team (2-1, 0-0 A-10) both follow the meet with Boston University with two invitationals on the road to close out November, then a hiatus from competition until returning home for the Jan. 12 meet.

 For men’s coach Russ Yarworth and women’s coach Bob Newcomb, however, the prospect of competing away from home for such a long stretch fails to daunt them.

 “We’re used to being a road show,” says Yarworth, now in his 40th year as the Minutemen’s head coach. “We like to swim at invitationals and that kind of thing, and our championship meet is away, so you better get used to traveling and swimming well. So this weekend is a good little mini-road trip to get us ready. I mean, it’s only an hour and a half to Boston, so I don’t look at the travel as being too much of an issue.”

 Newcomb echoed that sentiment in his comments after Thursday’s practice.

 “They’re pretty used to it,” said Newcomb, head coach of the Minutewomen for 35 years. “We’re very used to not having a whole lot of meets. In fact, this year we have four home meets, which is a lot for us. They enjoy being home, but they’re used to what we need to do on the road.”

 UMass has a long history with BU. The men’s teams have clashed a total of 47 times in their respective histories, and UMass has dominated the series to date, having gone 38-8-1 against the Terriers.

 The women’s teams have met 32 times, but the narrative has been different. Over the course of their rivalry, UMass is 12-19-1.

 We’ve had a history of real good rivalry going back and forth with BU over the years,” Yarworth said. “We get them, they get us, two in a row, one in a row, that kind of thing, so it goes back and forth.”

 Both programs will meet again in a matter of weeks when BU hosts its Terrier Invitational tournament November 16-18. For Yarworth, at least, there are practical benefits and advantages to getting a glimpse of a team they’ll end up facing once more down the line.

 “Anytime you go to a facility and get used to the facility and the surroundings, and the kids get used to the routine, when we go back there for the invitational…a lot of the questions will be out of their mind,” Yarworth said. “[Questions like] ‘where do I change? Where’s the bathroom? When do I do this? How do I get there?’ All going to be solved. Because those are issues that distract kids from their racing, when they have to make decisions. I try and train them so that all the decisions are made. They know when they’re eating, where they’re going, what the facility is like, so they can just focus on their race preparation—their warmup, race, then warm-down.”

 Still, neither he nor Newcomb are overly concerned about the significance of Saturday’s meet.

 “My concern is what we are doing in the water and right now it’s all about racing,” asserts Newcomb. “Time is important, but it’s about how are we racing, how are the freshmen doing, what are we changing, what are we making better. Again, what we are doing is preparing for A-10’s.”

 The Minutewomen are led by senior breaststroker and freestylist Ansley Baker, who Newcomb calls “our leader in the pool.” The men, on the other hand, rely on a variety of individuals for production, being an underclassmen-heavy team.

 “I look for the whole team to produce,” says Yarworth. “I think our sprinters are doing pretty well, our breaststrokers, our sprinters Ryan Pedrick and Mike Tartakovsky are showing some good 50 free times. They need to expand into the 100’s. Michael has got one of the better 50 backs in the conference right now, leading off our medley relays, so that’s good.”

 The Minutemen will be looking to sustain its group contribution on Saturday. Two contributors to watch on Saturday are Owen Churchwell and Al Madden, both breaststrokers, who are expected to return to the pool this week.

 The meet is set to start at 1:30 at BU’s Aquatic Center Competition Pool.

 Ben Painchaud can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

 

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