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Swimming and Diving Set Sights on Patriot League Championships

Women, men out to break string of third-place conference finishes


BU swimming sprinter Brian Habacivch loves when the weight of a race falls firmly on his shoulders.

“I get really psyched up to anchor relays,” says Habacivch (Questrom’17). “I like going last, because that puts all the pressure on the last person in a close race, and I like that pressure. It really gets my blood pumping, and I go even faster.”

When he and his BU swimming and diving teammates compete in the Patriot League Championships today in Lewisburg, Pa., they will feel pressure of a different sort—to break a streak of third-place finishes.

Since entering the Patriot League at the start of the 2013–14 season, both the men’s and women’s teams have finished in third place at all three season-ending meets.

To get over the hump, women’s and men’s swimming and diving head coach Bill Smyth says, his athletes need to perform their individual roles to the best of their ability.

“Consistency on the relays and being able to perform at an elite level is probably going to be the area where we can pick up a few extra points,” he says. “After that, it’s each person individually doing their role…making consolation swims is just as important to me as a person trying to get top three in an event where they know they’ve got a shot. Just being on our game in each event is going to be what allows us to move up.”

Preparing each season for the Patriot League Championships’ four-day structure is daunting, but Smyth and his staff have crafted a schedule the coach feels confident has readied the Terriers to be productive on each day of competition.

“It’s definitely a big challenge,” he says. “We have the Terrier Invitational in late November, which is a three-day meet that’s very similar in scope and lineup to the Patriot League Championships. We also scheduled back-to-back meets last month, with Boston College on Saturday and Bryant on Sunday. To have them experience that three weeks out was also important.”

Also aiding the Terriers should be their recent streak of strong finishes in the pool. After an extended break from competing after a December 3 tri-meet with Connecticut and Yale, wins by the women over Army, George Mason, American, Boston College, and Bryant and by the men over all those except Army have the teams riding a wave of momentum heading into the Patriot League finale.

“The year is going pretty well so far,” says women’s diver Kalli Roebelen (CGS’15, SAR’17), who picked up back-to-back Patriot League Diver of the Week awards last month. “We’ve had a lot of good wins, and we’re set up nicely going into the conference championship. We’ll see how it goes, but I think we’re in a really good spot heading into it.”

Roebelen says that for her, mental preparation is as crucial as physical conditioning in preparing for the extended competition.

“For diving, it’s very mental. About three weeks ago, we started doing lists, which is where we run through our dives at practice,” she says. “We get ourselves in the mind-set of a meet, so when the meet comes, we’re feeling prepared and we’re feeling confident in ourselves and our lists.”

Part of that mental toughness is remaining even-keeled in the face of the biggest meet of the season, something that team veteran Roebelen says she tries to pass along to the younger members.

“I try to show them by doing it myself. In the past, I’ve also been very stressed, because I’m a very anxious competitor,” she says. “It’ll just be me giving love and support.”

Kalli Roebelen making a dive

Kalli Roebelen (CGS’15, SAR’17), with recent back-to-back Patriot League Diver of the Week honors to her credit, says preparing for the four-day Patriot League Championships is mostly mental. She gets ready by visualizing her dives before every meet.

That support exists between the men’s and the women’s teams as well. They practice side by side and they compete in the same meets.

“We’re always supporting and being there for each other,” Roebelen says. “We’re in the pool together every single day. We don’t split men’s and women’s and we always have practice together, so that’s made us very close.”

Both Roebelen and Habacivch point to the teams’ recent Senior Day victories over rival Boston College as a highlight of this year’s slate.

“Our last home meet against BC was our senior meet, and it was probably the most exciting meet I’ve had in my time at BU,” Habacivch says. “It came down to the wire. Since it was our rival, it was really exciting. It got us really pumped up and ready to go for conference this week.”

If any of the Terriers have standout performances this week, they could find themselves with a spot in the 2017 NCAA Championships, being held March 23 to 25 in Indianapolis. Smyth says that while his athletes face challenges—many competing in the NCAAs come from Power Five conferences and practice in 50-meter pools, which BU lacks—there is certainly a chance for success.

He points to the Terrier divers, as well as swimmers Garrett Chin (CGS’16, Questrom’18), Trevor Winans (CAS’19), Sarah Hargrave (CGS’15, SAR’17), Julimar Avila (SAR’19), and Erin Nabney (COM’18), as athletes who could make an impact.

With the NCAAs, “you’re talking about the 30 best individuals in each event in the country,” he says. “The odds are stacked against us a little bit, but I think that the people that are set up to have good meets are our divers. We are typically one of the best, if not the best, diving teams at the conference championships.”

For Habacivch, staying in the right frame of mind is a question of confidence. “I think to keep a good mentality, you’ve got to trust your training and know that you’ve been doing the same thing correctly and working your butt off all year long,” he says. “You’re going to do it all well at the meet.”

The BU swimming and diving teams begin competition at the Patriot League Championships today, Wednesday, February 15, at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium in Lewisburg, Pa. The meet continues through Saturday, February 18, and will be broadcast live on the Patriot League Network.

Taylor Raglin can be reached at traglin@bu.edu.


One Comment on Swimming and Diving Set Sights on Patriot League Championships

  • Blake on 02.18.2017 at 1:14 pm

    Don’t forget returning 200 I m champion Quinn Smith only individual champion last year. Daniel Andronov will likely final. BU record holders should be mentioned in an article like this.

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