The men’s and women’s swimming teams finished their respective seasons with their second-consecutive second place finishes at the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championships.
The weekend featured the women’s team claiming top finishes in both the 200 and 400 medley relays, and the men breaking multiple team and conference records on the way to their second place finish.
“We did a really nice job of overcoming the challenges that have been set out for us this season,” Hawks head coach Tom Eickelberg said. “I think the team did a great job finding a way to chase perfection, despite a season that was flawed and imperfect.”
On the first day of the event, the women’s team finished in second place and never lost their spot. First-year Chelsea Angula and second-years Katie Donlevy, Jaimie Kaefer and Nicole Lee led the Hawks to a first-place finish in the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:56.60.
On the second day of the event, New Paltz finished first in the 200 medley relay. The quartet of Angulas, third-year Megan Joseph, fourth-year Aimee Del Favero and Lee posted a time of 1:47.69.
The Hawks will retain all but one of their swimmers on the medley teams for next season, which is a positive sign for Eickelberg as he heads into his second year as head coach.
“Returning a really talented, hardworking group of people is going to be satisfying,” he said. “Watching the swimmers who haven’t gotten best times in a few years was very fulfilling to see as a coach.”
The men also enjoyed a second-place finish in the tournament, setting several program records over the weekend. First-year Cooper Knapp also broke two conference record times and earned two NCAA B-Cut times in the process.
In order to qualify for an NCAA B-Cut time, a swimmer must surpass the standard time for an event established by the NCAA.
On the second day of the tournament, Knapp swam to an NCAA B-cut time in the 100 back finals with his first-place time of 50.37, eclipsing the B-cut standard of 50.54.
Knapp’s other B-cut time came on the final day, where he won the 200 fly finals with a SUNYAC and program record NCAA B-cut time of 1:51.48. He broke his own school record of 1:52.04 set earlier in the day.
Knapp recorded a time of 49.85 in the 100 back. This broke his own previous school record of 51.12 set earlier this season and shattered the old conference mark of 50.90 held by Alex Miller of SUNY Oneonta in 2013. He also set a program and conference record in the leadoff leg of the 400 medley relay on the first day of the event.
Other notable record breaking performances included the Hawks program-record breaking second place finish in the 200 free relay on the first day. The combination of fourth-year Jeffrey Pietkiewicz, Knapp and third-years Barrett Celecki and Caleb Treadwell finished with a time of 1:23.26, besting the previous program mark of 1:23.73 that was set last season.
Treadwell set a new program best in the preliminaries of the 50 free with a time of 21.06, breaking the previous mark of 21.12 set in 2016. In the finals of the event, Treadwell and Pietkiewicz placed fifth and sixth with times of 21.34 and 21.37, respectively.
In the last event of the first day, the Hawks set a program record in the 400 medley relay, clocking a 3:26.19 in the finals, thanks to performances by Knapp, fourth-year Vitaut Gurskiy, Treadwell and Pietkiewicz. This shattered the previous record of 3:30.03 set in 2012.
“Our team had a lot of support in itself,” Eickelberg said. “A lot of people were cheering and joking around. If you had a bad swim, people were there to help you shake it off. I don’t think I’ve been part of a team that does that.”
With a season that was limited to only three regular season meets due to the mumps outbreak, the Hawks’ potential was limited with the pool closing and the majority of the season being cancelled.
With a healthy team and a second place conference tournament finish to finish off Eickelberg’s first season, the head coach has high expectations for his teams next season.
“This team learned that racing is a privilege and an opportunity, not a duty,” Eickelberg said. “We were very under raced this year and it during some events. I think next year, we will be able to swim the events more in a way that will help people swim the full 100 yards of a swim, not 85.”