In the top-tier collegiate swimming and diving world, Seton Hall is a known commodity.
Last season, the men’s team was able to repeat as Big East champions, capturing its second conference title in program history and earning 11 All-Big East selections in the process. The women’s team also had its highest finish in history, placing third in the conference while receiving nine All-Big East selections.
The trend for both teams continues to be getting better as a unit each year and head coach Derek Sapp sees the arrow pointing up.
“The expectation this year is to improve,” Sapp said. “For the men, it’s to win the Big East again. For the women, it’s to continue to move up in the conference and everything and take the program to a new level.”
Although there has been a streak of continual success, the men have seen a fair share of last year’s team graduate from the program. There is always a fair amount of turnover in swimming, but Sapp sees this as an opportunity and that the upcoming season can be successful due to experience and enthusiasm.
“It’s a different team year to year,” Sapp said. “Even last year, the team was different than the previous year with the makeup of the people who were on it. This year, especially on the men’s side, it’s a lot different as there are a lot of new faces. There is still that excitement. There is half the team who won a Big East championship, has been there, then you have the other half that their excited about it and want their chance too.”
For the women, only one of their All-Big East members graduated. The team has veteran leadership, such as senior Courtney McCardle, and the men to look up to as it continues to search for more as a youthful squad.
“We know we can do much better and keep working hard to strive to be like the boys,” McCardle said.
‘To be like the boys’ is what creates a competitive atmosphere within the program. The healthy back-and-forth fierce ambitiousness shared between the two teams helps make a dynamic that is more than just racing in between lines.
“You want to support each other, you want to be there for each other, whether that is in the pool, out of the pool,” Sapp said. “If somebody does well in a race, everyone feeds off on it, whether it is a guy or a girl. Last year in the Big East, the guys got off to a bit of a rough start, but the girls were on fire out the gate. The guys fed off that and it’s just a continuous cycle with that, where everybody is on the same page and everyone has a common goal.”
Reaching for a common goal ultimately comes from learning from each other and building upon relationships.
“Team chemistry is fantastic,” men’s swimmer Josh Tosoni said. “We are a family in and out of the pool. Even with all the new faces, it only took a couple days for them to feel like a family because we are with each other for most meals of the day, practices one or two times a day, we are in classes together.”
McCardle shares the same viewpoint from the women’s side.
“You are together all the time in the pool,” McCardle said. “We are up early every morning so we are always with each other. We do feel like a family because we do everything together. When you are working together and pushing each other you get super comfortable with each other and you get to know everyone really well.”
With positive energy and fortified sustainability within the locker room, both programs will be looking to reach record heights this season.
Robert Fallo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @robert_fallo.