Accomplishment has been a constant for the New Paltz Men’s Swim team. The team, who finished with a record of 3-5, recently came out of the 2010-11 SUNYAC Conference championship as the third place victors, edged out by SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Cortland.
New Paltz closed the weekend with 405 points, while Geneseo had 854 points and Cortland had 674 points.
“The guys swam pretty well,” said Head Coach Scott Whitbeck. “We lost a lot from last year to this year. We lost Steve Cozzolongo, a school record holder. The guys’ team was a little bit down from our position that we had a year ago, but we maintained our third place spot which required a big team effort.”
This is the third year that the Hawks have finished in third at the SUNYAC championships. The best performances from the weekend came from third-year student Pete Nastasi, who finished fourth in the 1650 with a time of 16:45.73, and fourth-year swimmer Rob Webb who defended his title in the 400 medley relay. Webb was also the recipient of the James Fulton Award, which is given to a fourth-year swimmer who has improved over the course of their college career, has received All-America honors, academic achievement and All-SUNYAC honors. Webb is the fifth New Paltz Hawk to receive this award.
While Webb had an impressive weekend at the conference championships, Whitbeck said the swimmer isn’t quite fast enough to move onto the NCAA championships coming up in the spring. Unfortunately, the team will not send anyone to nationals, but that doesn’t halt the idea that the team accomplished great things over the course of the season. Nastasi was placed on the second all-conference team, while Webb was placed on the first all-conference team, a difficult achievement to attain.
Despite the fact that the season is over, Whitbeck and his team are still working hard for the upcoming season. Whitbeck started recruiting for the squad a year ago, and hopes to receive commitments from potential swimmers soon.
“Everybody has already applied of course, so it’s time to start closing the deal on people,” said Whitbeck. “We haven’t had any commitments on the guys’ side but that isn’t very uncommon because guys are in the middle of their high school season now, and that will be wrapping up in a week or two since the states are coming up, so most guys will be starting to make decisions around now.”
While Whitbeck is definitely feeling optimistic about bringing in recruits to swim for the Hawks next season, there is still the anxiousness of what will happen once the graduating class has left. The team will be losing a good portion of sprinters and their three captains Webb, Matt Demerest and Matt Gessert.
“We’re losing some numbers and a bunch of sprinters so we’re looking for that during recruiting,” said Whitbeck. “As far as the team making improvements, I think we definitely have some issues to address with back and breaststroke. I think once we get Jesse Sweeney (a swimmer who went to study abroad in Amsterdam for a year) back, he’ll definitely add more to the mix since he’s a very fast backstroker.”
The men may be finished for now, but they’re content with how they completed their season.
“I’m pretty happy with how it ended,” said Whitbeck. “It takes a lot for a team to keep in that third place spot and I’m very happy with that.”