The University of Maine men’s swim team has faced a lot of challenges during their last season, but will be finishing this season strong at the America East Championships from Feb. 14-17. This past season, the men on the team have competed against teams from around New England. This past weekend, they competed against three other teams in Worcester, Massachusetts, and after one day of competition ranked fourth with hopes of bringing home some lower times after the competition.
Sean Driscoll, a fourth-year, has noted that the team has faced some major challenges this past season. He commented that often, the team must settle with the resources that they have, since many of the notorious teams, such as football and hockey are much more popular and garner much more attention than the swim team does, leaving the swim team feeling as though they are left to pick over the resources that the school has to offer for the team.
“The biggest challenge my teammates have faced and will continue to face is the fact that we have to make do with what we have, and that, sometimes, is not a lot. We struggle with the funding side of things, the men’s team doesn’t offer any scholarships, our locker room is small and poorly kept. Maine is not known for producing the most elite swimmers and the sport is not the most popular, among the other sports like football, hockey, and basketball. Our pool time is sometimes cut for other activities,” Driscoll stated.
Third-year Andrew Plese has said that while the team faces adversity, it pushes them to work even harder.
“I think that one of the biggest challenges that we faced throughout the dual meet season was that we often swam against other teams with incredible talent. This only pushed us to train and swim harder and, with reminders from the coaching staff, we knew it would only make us stronger for champs,” Plese noted.
Despite the challenges, Driscoll has noticed that the team has been able to pull together to compete with passion.
“We are still able to come together and race our hearts out. We may not win any national titles or conference championships, but we are able to make do with these problems and provide an opportunity for swimmers to continue their career at the Division I level,” Driscoll said.
However, Driscoll also feels that the team is well-prepared to take on the challenge of the America East Championship.
“We have high hopes to get out there and make a name for ourselves, and to put up a race to the other teams that may overlook us. I know that no matter what place we come in, in individual races and as a team, I know we gave it our all and left everything in the pool,” Driscoll said.
This is also Driscoll’s final year on the swim team, and he is excited to participate.
“I have good faith that it’ll be the best one yet,” Driscoll said.
Jake Gutkes, also a fourth-year, has noticed the team getting better in his four years on the team.
“This year, I can say without doubt [that] our team is in the best shape its been in since I started swimming four years ago,” Gutkes said.
Gutkes also feels as though the attitude on the team contributes to their success.
“The team has a great attitude and we’re all psyched for a weekend of breaking records,” Gutkes said.
He has enjoyed his time on the team, as they have allowed him the opportunity to challenge himself.
“Getting a chance to improve and challenge myself, as well as stay healthy and active with guys that push each other to be the best possible athletes and students, as well as pushing each other to be the best people we can be, that has definitely been my favorite part of being on this team,” Gutkes said.
The swim team has offered many opportunities for growth for its athletes, as there have been opportunities for the student-athletes to participate in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). This committee strives to bridge the gap between the student-athletes and the athletic department staff and offers opportunities for student-athletes to get leadership experience. Driscoll, along with fellow student-athlete Alison Brodt of the women’s swim team, serve as the co-presidents of the SAAC, and have worked to discuss important America East initiatives, NCAA regulations and other topics that serve to improve the teams.
The swim team has offered many opportunities for student-athletes, and the men’s swim team will continue to work hard to overcome their challenges as their season wraps up and they start to prepare for the next season.