UMBC Swimming & Diving has always been a powerhouse in the America East Conference. The women’s team has won three of the last four championships, falling last season to New Hampshire. The men’s team has also been quite successful, winning 10 of the last 11 championships, including the last two back-to-back. These teams have proved to be conference powerhouses, and last week they traveled to Worcester, Massachussetts to try again for glory.
The Retrievers looked to set the tone early. By the first day, the men had taken first place with 130 points as Connor Ganley, Luka Zuric, Garrett Wlochowski and Satori Dobbie earned gold in the 800 free relay and Elijah Wright placed first in the 1-meter dive. The women found themselves in second place, but were only down to rival New Hampshire by 18 points and they were closing in as Laura Massicotte, Natalija Marin, Kelly Lajoie and Hania Moro won gold in the 800 relay. Emily Vance, Maddy Popalis, Sotiria Neofytou and Haylee Committe took care of business in the 200 relay, earning gold as well.
On day two of the championships, Wright took his second gold, winning the men’s 3-meter dive. Wlochowski placed first in the 500 free with his two teammates Kai Wisner and Matt Bennici placing second and third respectively. Alexander Gliese won the 200 individual medley and his teammate Luis Galvan followed in second.
Despite the women lagging behind by 13.5 points, they made a huge impact. Massicotte earned silver in the 200 individual medley, and in the 500 free, Tonia Papapertrou took bronze and her teammate Popalis followed in fourth.
What really marked day two, however, was the four records the Retrievers shattered. Ilia Rattsev won the 50 free in a time of 19.91, breaking his own meet record of 20.0 that he set the year before. In the men’s 200 free relay, UMBC took gold as Rattsev broke another UMBC record, the America East record and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute pool record as he split 19.85 as the lead-off leg. Moro broke a 14-year-old UMBC record in the 500 free, placing second with a time of 4:49.26. The women’s 200 free relay team composed of Committe, Papapertrou, Popalis and Massicotte, broke an eight-year-old UMBC record as they took silver with a time of 1:33.52.
Records continued to drop as the Retrievers entered day three of the championships. Marin finished first as she tied a record set in 2016 in the 100 fly. Gliese broke the five-year-old UMBC record and six-year-old America East record during the prelims for the 100 back, swimming in 47.26. When he returned in the finals, Gliese swam it in 47.16, breaking the records again by 0.1 seconds and taking home gold. The 400 medley relay of Gliese, Ganley, Dobbie and Rattsev set an America East and Worcester Polytechnic Institute pool record in 3:14.68, beating their previous personal best by 1.02 seconds.
The Retrievers continued to earn medals in all events, propelling both teams into first place. Massicotte brought the Retrievers a bronze in the women’s 400 individual medley while her teammates Britt Driscoll and Lajoie followed in fourth and fifth. In the men’s, Wisner took his second gold and teammate Jimmy Dwyer earned bronze.
The Retrievers dominated the 100 fly. For the women, on top of Marin’s record-setting first place finish, Neofytou placed second. The men swept the top five for the event, Jack Carlisle placing first, followed by Bennici in second, Jethro Ssengonzi in third, Mac Hoskins in fourth and Tiago Asakawa in fifth.
In the women’s 200 free, Moro earned silver and Marin earned bronze. For the men, Rattsev took his fourth gold medal of the championships. His teammate Zuric followed in second.
In the women’s 100 breast, Popalis took gold and Committe took bronze. Ganley and Galvan took first and second in the men’s, with only 0.04 separating them.
The Retrievers had a strong showing in the 100 back as the men had Wlochowski, Zuric and Dobbi place second, third, and fourth respectively. Vance placed second for the women.
On top of the men’s 400 medley relay breaking records, the women’s team of Vance, Popalis, Marin and Committe won silver.
Both teams were prominently in first entering the final day of the championships and the Retrievers were not stopping their shattering of records. Moro broke UMBC’s 1650 free record as she took first in 16:39.98. Gliese broke his second set of records of the championship, taking down the UMBC and America East records in the 200 back prelims, swimming it in 1:42.56. In the finals, he earned gold in a time of 1:44.56.
With these record-setting performances on top of other scoring performances, the Retrievers dominated the final day’s events and did not let the other teams catch up. Vanessa Esposito followed Moro’s record-breaking win as she placed second in the 1650. In the men’s 1650, Wisner, Haythem Abdelkhalek and Bennici took first, second and third.
The women went one and two in the 200 back, only 0.43 seconds separating Caroline Sargent in first and Lajoie in second. In the men’s, the Retrievers swept top three.
Committe and Papapertrou placed second and third respectively in the women’s 100 free. In the men’s, Rattsev earned in his fifth gold and his teammate Asakawa took bronze.
Holly Driscoll brought the Retrievers a bronze in the women’s 200 breast. The men’s 200 breast saw Galvan and Ganley take first and second. Marin placed second in the women’s 200 fly. In the men’s, Carlisle brought home the gold and Hoskins earned silver.
The men and women finished the championships with a bang as both 400 free relays, the men’s composed of Rattsev, Gliese, Asakawa, and Ganley and the women’s made of Committe, Popalis, Papapertrou and Massicotte brought home the gold.
In the end, both teams’ impressive performances ended in glory. As the final day came to the end, the Retrievers men’s and women’s teams both sat alone on top. UMBC’s finest were once again America East Champions.