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Versatility of LaClair, Cripps crucial in hot start for men’s, women’s swimming

The men’s swimming and diving team captured back-to-back Big East championships in 2017 and 2018, and while not as successful when compared to the men, the women have finished as high as third in the Big East.

So far in 2019, this success has continued. The men’s team currently stands at 4-0 and the women are 4-1. The men’s team soundly thrashed Rider 164-129 on Oct. 5 and beat the Broncs again the following week in New Brunswick. Montclair State (230-53) and Monmouth (174.5-107.5) were the swim squad’s next two victims. The women’s team also beat Rider twice and Monmouth and Montclair State in a dual meet on Oct. 18. They only lost to in-state rivals, Rutgers.

The fast times and versatility of sophomore Ben LaClair have been a constant for the Pirates thus far. LaClair has won at least one event in each meet this year, including four first place finishes (500-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays) against Rider on Oct. 12. LaClair also dominated the 1,000-yard freestyle, winning by 21 seconds, and the 100-yard freestyle against Monmouth and Montclair State. The variety of LaClair’s wins showcases his versatility - the ability to win sprints, middle distance and endurance races.

Photo via SHU Athletics

Seniors Josh Tosoni and Sam Hendrix also took home numerous wins. Tosoni was part of the winning 200-yard medley relay team against Rider and also captured the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 56.18 seconds. Hendrix won the 50-yard freestyle in both meets against Rider, finishing with a time of 21.29 seconds on Oct. 5 and 21.47 on Oct. 12. Hendrix also contributed to the winning 200-yard freestyle relay team against Monmouth and Montclair.

On the women’s side, freshman Sierra Cripps has led the way. She began the season by winning three events against Rider: the 200-yard medley relay, the 100-yard freestyle (57.22) and the 200-yard butterfly (2:03.48). Cripps repeated her trifecta against Montclair State and Monmouth, helping win the 400-yard medley relay and taking home the 50 and 100 yard freestyles with times of 25.33 and 54.38.

Another freshman, Madeline Bachand, has proved to be a versatile freestyler akin to LaClair on the men’s side. Bachand began the year by winning a short race, the 200-yard freestyle, against Rider and also captured a much longer race, the 1,000-yard freestyle, by a whopping 33 seconds against Montclair State and Monmouth. Bachand also came in second in the 500-yard free and the 1,650-yard free at the Rutgers/Rider dual meet.

While less heralded than basketball, swimming has held its own as a winter sport at Seton Hall, capturing multiple championships in recent years. This string of success has carried over into 2019 and LaClair, Tosoni, Cripps, and the entire swim team will seek to continue it when they take on Drexel on Oct. 26.

Matt Collins can be reached at

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