The University of Maine women’s swimming and diving team finished out their season this weekend after competing in Maryland at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships. The Black Bears were up against 16 other teams at the championship meet March 1–3.
Representing Maine were first-year Philann Dixon, second-years Annalise McCurdy and Maggie White, third-years Inès Khiyara, Emma Blair, Ines Khiyara and Emily Lund, along with fourth-years Shayla Kleisinger, Emma Blackdeer, Emily Lund, Juliana McDonald and Beatrix Lavenguir.
After the first meet on Friday, the women placed fifth out of the 17 teams, bringing in a total of 72.5 points during the first day of competition.
Competing Friday in the 200-yard freestyle relay was the team of McDonald, White, Blair and Khiyara. The relay team placed fifth, with a finishing time of 1:35.95. The 400-yard medley team made up of McDonald, Blair, Khiyara,and Blackdeer finished ninth in the B-final, with a time of 3:55.99.
Individually, the team performed well, with McDonald bringing home seventh place in the 200-yard individual medley (IM) with a finishing time of 2:08.61. Khiyara followed in the B-round of the 200-yard IM, coming in tenth with a time of 2:09.56.
Blair tied for tenth place in B-final of the 50-yard freestyle, finishing with a time of 23.83.
Kleisinger competed in the distance events for the University of Maine, bringing home 16th place in the 500-yard freestyle, with a time of 5:08.39.
The Black Bears have had a tough season, with injuries challenging them throughout the year. But the team has stayed positive. White focuses on how much the team works to support each other, and how much it means to each athlete to have that support.
“I know that when push comes to shove, I can turn to anyone for help, guidance, or words of encouragement,” Lilli Wiseman noted about the strength of the bond between herself and her teammates. The fourth-year, who was unable to participate at the championships, is also the team captain.
“I’ve become more myself through being a member on this team — being around people who truly care about you lets you do that. I also have become more responsible, better with time management and a better leader. Especially this year as a senior, you kind of set an example in hard work … and in positivity,”Emily Neville, a fourth-year swimmer, said.
She also notes that the team’s strenuous training schedule, which spans from September to March, often puts a lot of physical strain on the athletes. The “strength in numbers” approach helps the women stay passionate while they train in the pool and weight room.
Neville offered some insight to the team’s headspace, saying that the success for the team isn’t necessarily based on lower times or higher scores, but positivity.
“When you have to wake up at 5 a.m. to drive to lift, or when you’re so sore you can’t move … it can be easy to be negative. But this year everyone has been so positive and [you can see] there’s huge power in a positive team,” Neville said.
The season came to a positive end at the ECAC Championships after months of hard work, and the Black Bears will continue to stay positive as they look towards their next season.