Bison swimming program celebrates 60th anniversary

Becky Chambers, Staff Writer

The University’s swimming and diving program recognized a momentous occasion on Oct. 14-15. The Bison celebrated the program’s 60th anniversary as alumni, coaches, and swimmers all came together to reflect on the success and growth of the program since the inaugural men’s team in 1956-57. The first women’s team was brought to campus in the 1973-74 season.

The celebration kicked off on the evening of Oct. 14 downtown at Brendan’s Towne Tavern, a place many Bison associate fond memories. Oct. 15 began with a chance for the alumni to test out the “new” pool at Kinney Natatorium during an open swim and breakfast event. The Natatorium opened in 2002; only the last 14 years of swimmers have been able to enjoy the facility.

The men’s swimming and diving team then faced off against Boston University while the women’s team went up against both Boston University and University of Richmond. Unfortunately, neither Bison team came out victorious. During the meet, both inaugural teams were honored. The celebration concluded after the meet with a reception and dinner. University hall-of-famer Brad Tufts and men’s and women’s swimming head coach Dan Schinnerer spoke during the event. In addition, longtime assistant coach, Sandy Elion, who recently announced her retirement, was honored.

“The 60th anniversary celebration was a wonderful experience for current members of the team to meet past generations of Bucknell swimmers and divers,” Jack Robinson ’17 said. “It really resonated with us the great legacy this program has built and what a privilege it is to be a part of. At the end of the dinner reception, all alumni, current members, coaches and guests performed the ‘Ray Bucknell’ cheer. I’ll always remember that because it became clear no matter how old you are or where you go after you’re done with [University] Swimming and Diving, you’ll always be a part of the team,” Robinson said.

Current assistant diving coach Errol Carter expressed similar feelings.

“I felt as if I’m a part of something really special here at Bucknell University. I think it is awesome the amount of support the program receives from all of the different eras of the past and you can tell there was a profound impact on the experiences of many who have participated in the program at some point or another. It was great to see the love in the room,” Carter said.

Brittany Bishop ’19 articulated comparable sentiments.

“It was also really cool to hear some of the older alumni talk about the traditions that are still present on the team today. It’s great to know that I’m apart of something much larger than just my immediate team,” Bishop said.

The eventful weekend even allowed first Bison swimming conference champion, Bill Barrett ’59, to meet the most recent Bison conference champion, Chris Devlin ’18, which further united the past and current teams.

Although the teams were not able to perform as hoped during the 60th Anniversary Celebration, there were some individual successes. Devlin won both backstroke events and the 200 yard individual medley. Louis Behnen ’17 added to the victory count with wins in the 500 yard freestyle and the 1000 yard freestyle, both won by large margins. Robinson, Chadd Cummings ’19, and Mitch Buccalo ’19 all were able to garner second place finishes during the meet.

“Meeting and talking to members of the original men’s and women’s teams here was an incredible opportunity, and I was very happy to be able to share in a very special moment for our program,” Devlin said. “Whether it was members from teams in the recent past, or teams from back in the day, everyone came together to support all that this program has done.”

On the women’s side, Julianna Foss ’18 had three second-place overall finishes in both butterfly events and the 200 individual medley. Emma Hadley ’20, Libby O’Hare ’20, and Katherine O’Shea ’20 also all racked up second place finishes.

“The overall outcome wasn’t necessarily what the team would have liked to see on the 60th anniversary. However, the unwavering determination I saw in our team is very promising as our season continues,” Cummings said.

“Although we ultimately came short on bringing home the win against Boston, we had a lot of great swims and improvements from two weeks ago,” Behnen said. “I really enjoyed seeing alumni that I haven’t seen in years and meeting others that have been a part of the program. Seeing some of the black and white pictures at the reception event after the meet was especially cool. It made me appreciate a lot of the history of the team,” Behnen said.

The teams will be back in action Oct. 30 at Seton Hall at 1 p.m.

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