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Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championships Begin Today

Men and women Terriers out to break school records

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  • Terrier swimming and diving team begins Patriot League Championships competition today
  • The conference championships last four days
  • The team’s goal: lifetime bests, people on the podium, school records

When men’s swimming and diving captain Garrett Chin (CGS’16, Questrom’18) prepares for a meet, he creates a mental image of what the race could be: “It’s visualizing my race—making sure that I visualize my good start, turns, and a win,” Chin says. “I always visualize what I would do if it was a close race and if I beat the other guy out, and just listen to some pump-up music before I head out.”

Chin’s routine, often to a background of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” has helped him maintain a strong performance throughout his BU career, one that has included a school record in the 400 IM and three-time All-Patriot League First Team appearances. Chin and the other members of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving team will look to build on their success as they head to Navy today for this year’s Patriot League Championships.

The 2017–2018 season has seen “two different paths to get to where we are right now,” says head coach Bill Smyth. The men have relied on their strong start—3-1 in the dual meets—to end the season at 6-4, despite a fourth-place finish in the Terrier Invitational in mid-November. For the women, the season has been more challenging: although they finished second in the Terrier Invitational, they’ve struggled in the dual meets, leading to a 3-8 record, one of the worst in program history.

The Terriers joined the Patriot League in 2013 and have yet to win a conference championship. With Navy dominating the league this year, Smyth says, the team is focusing more on individual goals—lifetime bests, people on the podium, breaking school records—than on capturing a conference title. He says his swimmers, both men and women, are aiming to set at least two school records, one relay record on each side, to contend for a top-three finish and for all-time bests.

On the men’s side, Trevor Winans (CAS’19)—the school record holder in the 500 free—and Chin are out to challenge their own records. On the women’s side, Grace Anderson (CAS’18) and Julimar Avila (Sargent’19) are expected to turn in strong performances: each has made the All-Conference Team at least once. On the diving side, with a small roster of five this season, Lizzie Tillo (Questrom’18) will lead the way.

Diver Lizzie Tillo mid-air.

Diver Lizzie Tillo (Questrom’18) says the Terriers’ goal is to be the loudest team on the pool deck.

With 21 freshmen on the team, Smyth will be relying on upperclassmen like Chin for leadership as they head into the biggest event of the year.

“I tell everyone: just be confident,” Chin says. “We’ve all done the work. We’ve done countless hours swimming in this pool. We’ve done a ton of weight work. So we have a ton of confidence, knowing that we’ve done as much as we can to prepare for something as grueling and mentally taxing as this swim meet is going to be.”

Swimmers say that stamina is critical in a four-day event like the Patriot League Championships: simple things like staying hydrated or being the first in line for breakfast can make a difference. And Smyth is encouraging his players to maintain focus: “Think about how you swim your race. I want your mind exclusively focused on that.”

For Tillo, a regimen of yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises helps.

“There’s fatigue by the end that you have to push through mentally, but we’re prepared for that,” says Winans. “Most of us have done many championship meets that are just as long, and it’s a process, but the energy at the meet is enough to keep the fatigue from burning you out.”

“There’s definitely a lot of nerves going into the first race, because it sets the tone for the rest of the week,” Carly Soares (CFA’20) says. “Knowing that we’ve been preparing since September for this, cooling the nerves, and taking it one lap at a time are key.”

The Terriers—with their 20-hour-a-week swim schedule and their earlier experience in the three-day Terrier Invitational—say they’re ready for the challenge. And the close-knit swimmers will look to one another for support and encouragement.

“We love cheering on our teammates regardless of their seed or if this is their best event or not—just being the loudest team on the pool deck,” says Tillo. “Displaying our energy will always be one of our priorities.”

Despite the anxiety, the team says there’s no disputing how much they look forward to the championships meet. “It’s just so fun to see all your teammates. It’s awesome to see people finally getting the success they deserve,” Winans says. “It’s the most exciting time of the year.

The BU swimming and diving team begins competition at the Patriot League Championships today, Wednesday, February 14, at Navy’s Lejeune Hall in Annapolis, Md. The meet continues through Saturday, February 17, and will be broadcast live on the Patriot League Network.

 Jonathan Chang can be reached at jchang19@bu.edu.

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