Typically, college teams are made up of students of all grades and experience levels. But for the Seton Hall men’s swimming and diving team, that’s not the case.
The team consists of seven freshmen, seven sophomores, three juniors and just one senior. With the team so heavy on underclassmen, it’s been up to them to carry the load this season.
The lack of older swimmers in leadership roles hasn’t been easy on the team.
Freshman Dakota Williams described it as being “a little harder without senior leadership, but we get by. We’re all kind of like a family. Everybody stepped their game up to fill the spaces of not having older guys. We practice harder and work harder to fill it.”
In the team’s latest meet against Rider, freshmen Lior Grubert and David Rowe combined for five first-place finishes while Williams and Ivan Michalovic each took home a runner-up finish.
Grubert, who was just named Big East Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week for the third time this season, has been making a name for himself in the pool. Back in November, Grubert set a meet record in the 200 IM at the Patriot Invitational.
A few months later, nothing has changed for the Israel native. He’s racked up numerous first-place finishes in the Pirates’ past couple of meets, with three alone in their last meet.
With the spotlight shining on them, the underclassmen have had to put in extra work to prove themselves and become household names just as rookies.
“A lot of it is we’re just really hungry, we haven’t really won a Big East title as a team so we’re all just trying to prove it to everyone,” freshman Chris Tucker said.
Even though the leadership roles haven’t been as strong this season, the advice the older swimmers have given to the younger guys has been more than useful.
“They’ve given me a lot of pointers on my technique, but they’ve also given me tips on how to handle my classes and manage my time and really just how to be a better student-athlete in general,” Tucker said.
The team still has three more meets before it competes in the Big East championship, but a title chase is something the entire roster has been waiting for. The newcomers have made it a “Journey to February,” as the championships will be their first big showing.
The Hall came in third at the conference championships last season. For this year’s squad, that will not be enough.
“I think we have a good shot to win a Big East title,” Tucker said. “It’s going to be tough but I think that as a team we do have a good shot. It’s just going to be exciting to race and hopefully race well for Seton Hall.”
The team will honor its lone senior, diver Eric Davidson, this upcoming Sunday against UConn. But before that, the Pirates will travel up to Marist to take on the Red Foxes this Saturday.
Olivia Mulvihill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @OliviaMulvihill.