Swimming and diving teams earn nine gold medals at championship meet


Under first-year head coach Mark Yankovich, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams capped off their seasons with second place finishes at the Landmark Conference Championships, which ran Friday through Sunday at the Germantown Swimming Center in Boyds, Md.

The Royals made an impressive showing, accumulating nine gold, six silver and eight bronze medals. The Landmark Conference also announced its All-Conference swimming and diving teams Monday, which included Royals in nine individual and five relay events.

After finishing the regular season 4-5 in dual meets, The University men’s swimming and diving team earned 584.5 points to finish second at the Landmark Conference Championships last weekend.

Catholic University won with 809 points, but The University saw its best finish at the meet since 2012.

First-year Michael Diana highlighted the weekend by sweeping the men’s diving competitions. He took gold in the three meter dive with a score of 369.95 Friday and the one meter dive with a score of 389.05 Saturday.

“It’s really exciting, I’m not going to lie,” Diana said. “Especially since I don’t have a dive coach or dive board on campus … I have a good supportive team who led me through this whole process.”

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FRESHMAN MICHAEL Diana tumbles into the pool during a 177-100 victory for the men’s swimming and diving team. Diana won two golds at the Landmark Conference Championships last weekend.

The Royals earned two more gold medals Saturday starting with Alexander Rigione in the 200 freestyle. The sophomore captured his first career conference title with a time of 1:44.82.

Next, junior Patrick Blaser tied with Susquehanna University’s first-year Shane Sullivan for the first gold of his career in the 100 breaststroke with a time of :58.46.

Blaser also helped win bronze in Friday’s 400-medley relay with junior Joseph Vannucci, sophomore Robert Kahrs and sophomore Christopher Whalen in 3:32.46 and a silver in Saturday’s 800 freestyle relay with Whalen, Rigione and sophomore Daniel Muenkel in 7:07.59.

Blaser concluded a stellar weekend with a silver medal in the 200-breaststroke Sunday with a time of 2:12.17.
“After the third day, after swimming all those races you’re tired, you’re hurting,” Blaser said. “I just put that all away for a minute or two, sucked it up and finished.”

Other noteworthy performances include a Whalen’s silver in the 100 fly in :52.07 and sophomore Michael Ramsthaler’s bronze in the 100 backstroke in :53.66 Saturday. Also, the Royals took second in the weekend’s final event, the 400-freestyle relay thanks to Whalen, Rigione, Kahrs and first-year Raymond Diorio with a time of 3:12.09.

The men’s swimming and diving team is young, but as a collective the Royals know how to win.

“The team is literally the best,” Diana said. “They were all standing over the railings to watch me compete this weekend, and it was a really good feeling, and they all kept encouraging me and congratulating me. It was great, and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do it all.”

The University’s women’s swimming and diving team took home second place at this weekend’s Landmark Conference Championships, finishing the three day competition with a total of 578.5 points.

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JUNIOR RAQUEL Wasserman races to gold in the 100-freestyle in 52.95 at the Landmark Conference Championships Saturday. It was the second 100-freestyle gold of her career.

The final night of competition saw noteworthy performances from a number of Royals, including junior Raquel Wasserman, and sophomores Emma Ilseman, Claire Mason and Susan Neggia, who took first, second, third and fourth places in their respective events.

The Royals’ 400-frestyle relay team also had a successful night, finishing their event in first place with a time of 3:34.74. This triumphant team was composed of Emma and Susannah Ilseman, Raquel Wasserman and Emma Sommers.

The Royals were able to hold on to second place throughout all three days of the competition, seeing standout performances from their swimmers and divers on each night of competition.

The Royals are thrilled with their accomplishments and are happy to end the season on such a high note.
Sophomore Susan Neggia reflected on what taking second place home has meant for the team, especially after beginning the season with a new head coach.

“It was so amazing to have both teams finish in second place this year! I think especially after having a last minute coaching change and therefore having to readjust to new coaching techniques and practices we really could not have done any better than we did. Everyone came together and we worked so hard and the results most definitely showed that,” Neggia said.

The team was able to do a great job of readjusting itself to new coaching techniques throughout the entire season, finishing the regular season dual meets with an impressive record of 8-2.

Neggia noted that most of the team’s success could be attributed to each individual stepping up and taking on an important role on the team.

“I think our greatest accomplishment this season was overcoming everything that happened last year and stepping out as a united family. We adjusted to a new coach, brought on amazing new swimmers and worked together as team to accomplish all of our goals and more,” Neggia said.

The second place finish marks the Royal’s fifth in program history at the Landmark Conference Championships.

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