By Miguel Gonzalez
Parents and friends gathered to see the seniors at home for one last time at the TCNJ Aquatic Center on Saturday, Jan. 27, competing in their last home meet of the season against conference opponent Rowan University. The meet was a special occasion this year for head coach Brian Bishop, as he plans to retire after this season.
To honor his work during 29 seasons, prestigious accolades and NCAA national championship teams he has coached, the audience gave Bishop a standing ovation.
Bishop recounts how many people he has influenced during his coaching career.
“It was very moving and I had a wide range of emotions,” Bishop said. “What stuck with me the most was that it was the biggest crowd we have ever had at a meet. In addition to the fans, family, students and friends, there were over 100 alumni in attendance and it reinforces to me that the program and perhaps in some small way that I had a positive influence on their lives.”
Despite a hard-fought effort, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams lost to Rowan University with scores of 167.5-132.5 and 220-77.
The men’s team was pitted against a challenging Rowan squad, who is currently undefeated in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. The team needed one more win to clinch the conference championship.
Freshman Andrew Thompson led the team in victories. He took first in the 200-backstroke with a time of 1:56.26. At the 100-butterfly, Thompson swept the opposition in less than a minute and clocked in at 51.67. He then won the 200-individual medley with a time of 1:58.
Junior Alex Skoog also stood out. Skoog swam his way to first in the 100-backstroke with a time of 51.96. He then won the 100-freestyle in less than 50 seconds, clocking in at 47.24. Skoog nearly finished first at the 50-freestyle as well, losing by only .19 seconds for second place with a time of 21.85.
Meanwhile, junior Sam Maquet outlasted Rowan in the 200-butterfly, edging out his opponent for a first place finish by only one millisecond with a time of 1:54.26. Sophomore Harrison Yi was also the runner up at the 200- and 500-freestyle events.
The seniors went all in for their last meet at home. Senior Logan Barnes took second place in the 200-breaststroke with a time of 2:13.18. Fellow seniors Phil Binaco and Chris O’Sullivan helped the Lions secure second place in the 200-medley relay, clocking in at 1:36.22.
Bishop appreciates all the contributions of the senior class and their impact on the team.
“The members of our senior class have developed as outstanding athletes during their four years, but more importantly, they have developed as outstanding leaders and even better young men,” Bishop said. “Their leadership both in and out of the pool has been extraordinary. All four have bright futures ahead of them and will continue to make TCNJ swimming proud.”
Despite the conference loss to Rowan, Bishop looks forward to coaching the team to a successful postseason.
“Our plan has not changed even with a tough loss to a very good team,” Bishop said. “Our focus against William Paterson will be as a final prep before the Conference Championships and NCAA Championships.”
The women’s team had a tough meet against Rowan. Senior Marta Lawler took second in the 200-breaststroke with a recorded time of 2:30:31. In her next event, the 200-individual medley, she claimed fourth place with a time of 2:21.13. Fellow senior Jillian Galindo was not far behind, taking third in the same event with a time of 2:18.99.
At the 200-medley relay, seniors Cassidy Bergeron and Debbie Meskin led the team to a fifth place finish with a time of 1:58.10. Senior Hannah Raymond claimed the team’s only win in the meet at the 1-meter event and scored 271.65 points.
The Lions will be on the road when they travel to William Paterson University for their last conference meet of the season on Saturday, Feb. 3.