The Seton Hall swimming and diving teams ended their regular seasons on high notes, winning in dominant fashion against Providence and Georgetown on Feb. 3. With two weeks remaining until the Big East Championship on Feb. 21 in Geneva, Ohio, both teams are preparing for what will be their final challenge of the 2017-18 season.
The men’s team has been a force against teams in the conference with a record of 4-1 against Big East competitors and a 9-7 mark overall. Led by senior Noah Yanchulis, the Pirates will look to their veteran leader to set the tone heading into the Big East Championship.
Last year, he placed first in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle, in addition to the 400 and 800-yard freestyle relays which helped Seton Hall win the Big East title.
For Yanchulis, his times have increased by over four seconds the last two times he swam the 500-yard freestyle. The 2016 and 2017 Big East Most Outstanding Swimmer has been short of his peak numbers, with his 4:41.01 time in the 500-yard freestyle on Jan. 28 against Columbia 19 seconds slower than when he placed first in the same event in the Big East Championship.
The Hall’s only conference loss of 2017-18 came against Georgetown on Nov. 3, when Yanchulis found himself neck-and-neck with freshman standout Andrew Stange in the 200-yard freestyle. The senior swimmer placed first with a time of 1:40.80 and Stange came right behind in third at 1:41.14. In early January, Stange won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:40.66 and placed second in the 100-yard freestyle at 46.74.
Junior Lior Grubert captured the season’s final weekly Big East awards, as he was named male swimming and diving athlete of the week for his performance against Georgetown and Providence. In his three events, he placed first in two. He also came in fourth in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:45.99, and subsequently won the 500-yard freestyle five seconds with a time of 4:42.48, which was five seconds ahead of the next closest competitor. At last year’s conference championship, Grubert captured the top spot in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:49.36.
On the women’s side, the team finished the regular season with a 6-11 overall record and went 2-3 in conference meets, relying on a mix of new talent and experienced swimmers. Freshman Lexi Kolodgie placed second in the 200-yard breaststroke against UMBC in the team’s first meet of the year on Oct. 6. Within a few months, she decreased her time by three seconds to win the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:24.83 against Fairfield on Jan. 14.
Senior Sydney Simpson has been a consistent swimmer for the Pirates this season. She was named the Big East’s female swimming and diving Athlete of the Week on Feb. 6, following her performance in the last regular season meet of the year. Simpson competed in four events and won the top spot in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.07 and the 100-yard butterfly stroke with a time of 57.69.
If prior meets are any indication, Georgetown will be the biggest challenge for the Hall on both the men’s and women’s side. However, despite the Hoya challengers, if any meet calls for a swimmer or diver to fall back on past experience at the conference tournament, expect momentum to swing in Seton Hall’s favor.
Despite an up-and-down regular season on both sides, don’t sleep on the Pirates, as they have the experience to fare well in Ohio.
Andrea Keppler can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @keppler_andrea.