By Sean Reis
Following successful seasons from both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, the Lions traveled to Rutgers University for the Metropolitan Conference Championships (METs) hoping to continue their dominance in the pool. Although the teams left the three-day meet — which started on Friday, Feb. 19, and concluded on Sunday, Feb. 21 — with second place finishes, the results did not display how well both teams performed.
The men’s team swam neck-and-neck with Rowan University all weekend, but fell short, 1,426 to 1,325. The women’s team had an intense weekend, as well, with multiple lead changes before the final score of 1,116 to 1,090.5 behind Division II Long Island University-Post was announced.
“This was a true team event from divers to every swimmer in each stroke to all the relays,” coach Jennifer Harnett said. “Everyone really stepped up and competed for the team. It was exciting to be in first place after the second day. I knew it would be tough to hang on to (the lead), but the fact that we were just relay points (away) from winning or being third made it that much more exciting.”
Sophomore Debbie Meskin placed third in the 200-butterfly with her new personal-best at 2:12.58. Junior Sarah Grassi was named the female diver of the meet during the post-meet ceremonies. Grassi won the 1-meter event and placed second in the 3-meter event.
Meanwhile, for the men’s team, freshman Alex Skoog and senior James Shangle both broke program records during preliminary heats in the meet’s final day.
“As a team we performed great, setting two records, multiple wins and numerous NCAA cuts,” Shangle told TCNJ Athletics. “Rowan is a great swim team and absolutely deserved to win. However, our main focus has always been on NCAAs and that is where we intend to shine.”
Sophomore Logan Barnes also swam with strong strokes all weekend long, winning the 400-medley event on Saturday and setting his personal-best time in the 1650-yard freestyle event with 16:08.57.
Collectively, both teams performed with passion at the METs, dominating relays all weekend long. The women’s team opened with a fourth place finish on Friday in the 200-freestyle relay, led by sisters senior Lauren Rothstein and sophomore Emily Rothstein, alongside junior Brenna Strollo and sophomore Ali Huber. The men’s closed with a win over Rowan University on Sunday in the 400-yard freestyle relay led by senior Joseph Dunn with juniors Ryan Gajdzisz, Scott Vitabile and Jason Ivins.
“We had great leadership from the captains and the entire senior class.” Harnett said. “They were a tight class when they were freshmen and to see them develop over four years without anyone quitting is a true testament to their commitment to the program and to TCNJ Athletics.”
Despite second place finishes at the METs, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams can remember this season for their success together. Individually, however, swimmers must now wait to hear about qualifying for the NCAA National Championships in Greensboro, N.C., next month, while divers will compete in the NCAA Regional Championships next weekend.