Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Swimming and Diving seniors prepare for season’s final meet

Both teams travel to Fordham on Saturday for last meet before A-10’s

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Swimming and Diving seniors prepare for season’s final meet

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Ben Painchaud, Collegian Staff

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All season long, the UMass swimming and diving teams have had their sights set on the Atlantic 10 Championships. All season long, they’ve trained diligently in an effort to shave off a few tenths of a second on their strokes for when late February rolls around and they’re vying to hang up another banner.

Now, with their Saturday dual-meet versus Fordham being the only thing remaining between them and those oft-mentioned A-10’s, UMass swimming and diving’s sights have narrowed even further. Yet, head coaches Russ Yarworth and Bob Newcomb, along with seniors Kellen Gray and Maddie Biron, took a brief moment at practice on Thursday to discuss the significance of that thing still in the way of full-fledged A-10 preparation—a date with Fordham on Satuday.

“I go through it all the time,” said Yarworth, head coach of the men’s team. “[The seniors] only go through it once…They realize it’s the last time they’ll do something like that in their career and in their lives. So yeah, it’s special.”

“Last dual-meet evah!” joked Newcomb, coach of the women, before turning serious. “Yeah, this is something special for them. I mean, they’ve had their senior meet here at home. Fordham—this is their senior meet, so there will be a ceremony, and [the Minutewomen] will think about it because this will really be the end of something that they have done for so long.”

Kellen Gray, a senior specialist in the backstroke and butterfly, is all business about this weekend, remembering that UMass fell the last time it traveled to Fordham. After all, UMass already had its senior day on January 12th versus Bryant.

Regardless, Gray noted the emotional meaning that this weekend will hold, saying, “it’s kind of a bittersweet ending.”

“I’ve been doing this for sixteen years, and when I come to the end of it and I start realizing it’s coming to the end, I’m more glad that I was able to say that I finished it, rather than having someone else tell me, ‘you’re finished,’” he added.

As she looks to end this season on her own terms—last season a back injury limited her performance in the A-10’s—senior freestyler and backstroker Maddie Biron is most excited about witnessing both individual and team progress this weekend.

“I’m just so excited to be there with this team we’ve had over the whole season. We’re so supportive of each other and everyone is doing so well, and I’m so excited to see everyone improve. So not only for myself—I want to see myself improve—but I’m more excited to see how the team does in general.”

Both teams will leave for Fordham on Saturday morning. The meet is set to start at 1:00 pm.

Ben Painchaud can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Ben_Painchaud.

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