In a meet where records were broken and races were won by inches, the University of Richmond women’s swim and dive team lost to Villanova Friday.
Despite community support, the Spiders fell to the Villanova Wildcats, 162-134. A vocal crowd filled the bleachers and lined the walls near the entrance of the Natatorium in the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. Travis Stensby, assistant swimming coach, estimated the attendance was approximately 200 people.
Seniors Lauren Hines and Mina Vucic were honored by head coach Matt Barany before the meet began, and posters and a banner made by their teammates adorned the room. “She might be one of the best athletes to ever attend the University of Richmond,” Barany said about Hines. And Vucic went from being an unruly freshman, he said, to singlehandedly winning a key relay race in her sophomore year.
The home team swam well against a much better-funded and more talented team, Barany said, but the Richmond swimmers had tended to lose races by tenths of a second too often. Richmond swimmers lost five races by less than a second, according to the official results.
Out of the 12 individual swimming events, a Richmond swimmer won three. Hines got two of those wins, in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke races, and freshman Kelley Yang won the 100-yard butterfly. Richmond took first and second place in the 200-yard medley relay, but slipped to second and third place in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Two-tenths of a second separated first and second place in the freestyle.
In contrast to its performance in the swimming events, Richmond won comfortably in both of Friday’s diving events. Sophomore Katherine Cook took first place in both the one-meter and three-meter dives, and freshman Erica Elias took second place in both events. Both Cook and Elias broke the 17-year-old school record with their scores in the three-meter dives, which also qualified them for the NCAA championships in that event.
With voices hoarse from cheering for their teammates, Hines and Vucic both said that they could not express adequately how much being on this team had meant to them, and that they would miss most the camaraderie of the swim and dive team. After graduation, Hines will likely stay in Richmond, Va., to teach, Barany said, and Vucic is still searching for a job.
This was the team’s only home meet of the season, a fact that Barany attributed to Richmond’s poor-quality swimming facility, and the last meet of its regular season. It will compete next in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships starting Feb. 20 in Geneva, Ohio. The Richmond women’s swim and dive team has won 10 of the previous 11 championships and came in second place in 2010.
Contact staff writer Ben Panko at firstname.lastname@example.org