The Men and Women’s swimming teams participated in the MIT Winter Invitational from Friday, Dec. 4 to Sunday, Dec. 6 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
After the third and final day, the Men’s team placed fifth out of six teams. The Women’s team recorded a sixth place finish out of eight teams.
Hawks Head Coach Scott Whitbeck said he was happy with how both teams performed during the three-day invitational.
“We have set ourselves up to have a really good second half of the season,” he said. “We really saw some improvement from some people throughout the fall. This was a good chance to see where we are in general. The competition was really fast, which was a good thing. It’s nice to see what is out there.”
The first day’s events for the Men’s team — the 800 freestyle relay and the 1,650 freestyle — were timed-final events.
The 800 freestyle relay team of Hawks second-years Matthew Kessler and Barrett Celecki and fourth-year co-Captains Ethan Cooke and Will Koenig kicked off the meet with a 14th-place finish, recording a time of 7:19.59.
Hawks third-year Rob Cahn coasted to an 11th-place finish in the 1,650 freestyle (17:03.69), while Celecki swam to a 14th-place standard of 17:19.83.
New Paltz’s highlight of the second day came during the first event of the evening finals session. The “A” 200 freestyle relay team of third-year Austin Kowalsky, second-year Caleb Treadwell, Cooke and Koenig earned a fifth-place time of 1:24.46 that bested the program record in the event. This was the first time a relay record was set at a fall meet in seven years. Treadwell, Brandon Finn, Rod Taskindoust and Koenig established the previous program standard of 1:24.51 at last year’s State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championships.
On the final day, New Paltz’s top individual finish of the day came from Koenig, who placed 13th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.47.
For the Women’s side, both first-year Jaimie Kaefer and fourth-year co-Captain Cassidy Griger qualified for an “A” final on the second day, with Kaefer placing sixth in the 400 individual medley (4:38.60) and Griger taking seventh in the 200 freestyle (1:56.12). Kaefer clocked a 4:36.29 in the preliminary heats, which met the NCAA “B” cut time.
New Paltz kicked off the evening session with a 10th-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay, as the “A” relay foursome of second-year Molly McCulloch, first-years Katie Donlevy and Nicole Lee and Griger combined to chart a time of 1:38.80.
Four Hawks competed in the “C” final of the 100 breaststroke, with second-year Megan Joseph leading the way with a 24th-place finish of 1:09.85. Fourth-years Casey O’Connor and Krista VerMeersch also scored points with times of 1:10.77 (26th) and 1:12.34 (29th), respectively.
Finally, in the last event of the evening, the “A” 400 medley relay team of first-year Kaleigh O’Halloran, Donlevy, McCulloch and Griger clocked a 14th-place time of 4:03.47.
On the final day, Donlevy tied for fourth in the 200 individual medley event — the highest individual place for a New Paltz swimmer all weekend — with a time of 2:09.87. Griger made the “A” final of the 500 freestyle and finished ninth (5:11.20). The Hawks 400 freestyle relay team of Griger, Donlevy, first-year Kaleigh O’Halloran and third-year Aimee Del Favero closed out the meet with an eighth-place time of 3:37.29.
Griger said both teams showed a lot of depth during the weekend with fast swims in almost all events.
“It was a great way to test our speed at the midseason point,” she said. “The MIT Invitational was a challenging meet with preliminaries in the morning and finals at night over five separate sessions, which was a valuable experience as our SUNYAC Championships meet will be the same format.”
Both teams will have nearly a month off from competition until their annual winter training trip, at the St. Pete’s Classic in St. Petersburg, Florida on Sunday, Jan. 3 at 10 a.m.
Hawks fourth-year co-Captain Maggie Heaton said it will be beneficial to take this month-long break from competing. During the time off, the team will increase their strength in the weight room and do intense training in the pool to prepare for the second half of the season, she said.
Whitbeck said both teams train really hard during their annual trip to Florida.
“We will have a long-course pool there, you can’t simulate that here,” he said. “The focus of the trip is really to try get in the hardest training of the season. It’s nice to be able to do that in a controlled environment down in Florida. With the warm weather it is really nice to train outdoors.”