The Virginia Wesleyan University swim team came to play and show that they are a force to be reckoned with this year. The Marlins competed in three swim meets for both men and women this season, including ODACs. Due to COVID related concerns some of their scheduled swim meets were cancelled or postponed which caused the Marlins to have a shortened season.
“This season posed a lot of challenges for us, but the team really came together and relied on each other at practices and the small racing opportunities we had, and brought us together as a family,” said Sophomore Chloe Dewberry. “Once our team was growing we really showed we are a force to be reckoned with. Now we are showing that we are here to compete with those big schools.”
On the women’s side, the Marlins went 1-1 overall during the regular season as they took a loss 239-22 to the University of Lynchburg Hornets. Then, they took home the win 117-108 on senior day in a home game against the Vixens of Sweet Briar University. There were second and third place finishes as well in the 500 yard free and 100 yard breaststroke.
On the men’s side, the Marlins went 0-2 overall during the regular season as they took losses 228-23 to the University of Lynchburg Hornets and 183-53 to the Hampden-Sydney Tigers.
“The team overall, we really took those challenges and turned them into something better. We really went for it but we are ready to be together and racing again next year,” said Dewberry.
At the 2021 ODAC championship, the Marlins showed up and showed out. During the two-day event, thirteen school records were broken by the Marlins. The men’s team placed 6th overall with total points of 167 points and the women placed 5th overall with a total of 204.40 points.
In the 800 freestyle relay, the men’s team of Nathan Viricochea, Grant Morgan, Jack Palmer, and Tyler Strong shattered the old record by 27 seconds in a time of 8:20.27. Viricochea also broke the record in the 500 freestyle by ten seconds, finishing with a time of 5:21.25, and beat the 200 breast record by twelve seconds, finishing with a time of 2:25.30. Morgan broke last year’s time of 6:37.65 by dropping it to 5:19.08 in the 400 Individual Medley. Strong set the new record in the 200 back dropping .02 seconds with a time of 2:07.25. Strong was named ODAC Third-Team All-Conference for his performance in the ODAC championship. He became the first men’s swimmer to receive this recognition in program history. Lastly, Matthew Bavuso set a new record in the 200 fly with a time of 3:27.57.
The women’s team of Kiera Doyle, Chloe Dewberry, Emily Lewis, and Kara Young broke the school record in the 800 freestyle relay by seven seconds, finishing with a time of 9:11.38. Dana Smith broke two records at the ODAC championship, dropping the school record in the 200 Individual Medley by five seconds (2:21.25) and dropping the 100 yard breaststroke to a time of 1:10.88. In the 400 Individual Medley, Young set a new school record of 5:55.76; Dewberry claimed a new record in the 200 Back with a time of 2:20.36. Finally, Taylor Morich broke a record in the 1650 Freestyle with 22:48.62.
“We talked kind of on and off with the team about courage over comfort. They had a lot of reasons to not swim fast this year, but they wanted it bad enough, and collectively I think that’s why we got the results that we did,” said Head Coach Mike Ginder.
By Shirell Washington