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Terriers Take to the Pool

BU swimmers host invitational this weekend

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Women’s tri-captain Maria McIntyre is having an outstanding season for the Terriers. The squad is 6-1. Photos by Steve McLaughlin

Seven of the strongest swim teams in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region converge on BU today for the fifth annual Terrier Invitational. Their goal: dethrone the reigning champion Terriers. Standing in their way will be a BU squad looking to gear up for the America East Conference Championships, upcoming in February. The BU men will try to take down six-time champion University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the women will attempt to earn their third consecutive conference championship.

The BU swimmers this weekend face the University of Massachusetts, Boston College, Yale, Holy Cross, and Drexel at the invitational. The women also take on the University of New Hampshire andNortheastern. UNH is an America East rival, and UMass has won the Atlantic 10 conference championship every year but one in the past decade. Competition will be fierce, but the Terriers say they’re prepared.

“This is definitely the strongest class we’ve had so far,” says men’s cocaptain Kyle Ernst (COM’11) (below). According to both swimmers and coaches, Ernst may be the best breaststroker in the conference, having won both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke races at last year’s America East Championships. He is also on medley relay teamsthat have won for the past two years and have been dominating in dual-meets this season.

“Kyle Ernst is definitely a force to be reckoned with,” says women’s tri-captain Francesca Ferrante (CAS’12). “He’s an animal in the water.”

But the talent on the squads goes deeper than any single athlete.

“Individually, I’d say each swimmer on the 200-yard medley relay can be the best in their respective event,” says cocaptain Nate Everett (CAS’11). “When you put them together, it’s really just exciting to watch, because it’s such an all-star cast.”

The consensus, from captains to coaches, seems to be that the best racesto watch are the relays, either medley or freestyle. They are scheduledas the final events each night of the competition, except for the 200-yard medley relay, which will lead off on Saturday. “It gets the whole team excited, and definitely the crowds and audience get really excited about it,” says women’s tri-captain Sarah Doersam (SAR’11).

Bill Smyth, who coaches both the men and the women, says the women’s relay racers “don’t appear to have any weaknesses.” And the same holds true for the men, according to Ernst, who says, “I don’t think we have aweak leg” on the men’s 200-yard medley relay squad.

The women’s freestyle relay team includes Maria McIntyre (SED’11), the third captain on the women’s team and the 2010 conference champion in the 50-yard freestyle sprint. McIntyre likes the race because its lengthmakes it all about “raw speed,” she says, and a bad start or a bad turncan break any racer.

The structure of the Terrier Invitational, with preliminary heats and finals, is similar to that of the conference championship, the first such setup for the Terriers this season. All told, there will be 36 races. “A lot of swimming, a lot of time in the water, a lot of time to think about your races,” says Doersam. She says the invitational will serve as a “practice run” for the conference championship, and “it’s a good chance to see how fast you can get yourself going in the heart of training season.” The swimmers also want to win the meet, of course.

Ernst says he thinks the invitational will be great for the younger swimmers. Among the freshmen to watch are butterfly and freestyle-swimmer Jeff Thomas (CAS’14), who won three races at Fordham University on November 13, and Meaghan Grimes (CGS’12), who won the 200-free at Stony Brook University November 12, then followed it up the next day by winning the 1000-free at Fordham.

The strength of this Terrier swimming squad comes from its versatility and its unity, says Doersam. “Where one person falls off, someone else makes up. We really work off of each other, and it usually turns out if one person does have a good swim, it gets everyone pumped up,” she says,“and sure enough, more and more people will have those good swims.”

In this close-knit BU squad, the men and women practice together and often race against each other.

The Terrier Invitational begins today, Friday, November 19, and continues through Sunday, November 21, at the FitRec competition pool, 915 Commonwealth Ave. Prelims begin each day at 10 a.m. and finals each night at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Matt Goisman can be reached at mgoisman@bu.edu.

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