Bison swimming and diving looks forward to hosting League Championships

Bri Pomonis and Elise Covert

With postseason for all winter sports swiftly approaching this month, swimming and diving already has its eyes set on taking gold at the Patriot League Championship starting Feb. 15.

The team has seen steady progress leading up to the championship, a momentum they hope to continue by claiming first place over season rivals. Against Patriot League opponents, the men have topped American, Lafayette, Loyola and Lehigh, while the women have tallied wins against American, Lafayette, and Loyola. In past years, the Bison have repeatedly proven that they are a force to be reckoned with in postseason. During the 2015-16 season, the Orange and Blue took fourth place at the Patriot League Championship, leaving them hungry for a higher title in 2017.

The men ended regular season with a record of 4-3 against Patriot League opponents. Team veterans Louis Behnen ’17 and Chris Devlin ’18 have continued to prove their leadership and athleticism throughout the season. Devlin finished with a whopping five first-place finishes in the 200-yard backstroke against Patriot League opponents. He is no stranger to postseason success, either. He has earned gold medals in the 400-yard IM championship for two years in a row, and another in the 200-yard backstroke in 2016. Devlin also won Rookie Swimmer of the Meet in 2015 and Swimmer of the Meet in 2016 honors at the championship the past two years.

“Those titles and awards give me confidence as I train and compete, and they continue to motivate me to be better year after year to live up to the successes I have already enjoyed,” Devlin said.

Behnen has likewise had a promising season leading up to championships. Walking away from the regular season with two first-place titles in the 200-yard freestyle and four first-place titles in the 500-yard freestyle against Patriot League opponents, Behnen hopes to end his final Patriot League Championship with a gold medal.

“While some of my goals for this final meet include winning the 500 freestyle and giving NCAA qualifications a shot, my biggest hope is that I can walk away from Patriots with a smile on my face and no regrets. The work’s been put in at this point, and all that’s required is focus and execution,” Behnen said.

The women concluded their regular season with a record of 3-4 against Patriot League opponents. The team has had strong showings this season from many young swimmers and divers. Standouts this year have included Abigail Rosenberg ’19 in freestyle springs and Abby Merriman ’20 in freestyle distance. Rosenberg holds the school record for 100-yard freestyle at 50.84 seconds and finished in the top three places of her races more frequently as the season has progressed. In 2016, she finished eighth in the 100-yard freestyle at the Patriot League Championships. Isabel Gardner ’20 leads the way for the women in diving.

“We design our seasonal progression and training plan to improve each and every month, but it is the athletes that have to do all the work. This group has done a good job of making consistent improvement. We are definitely excited for championships and to see all the hard work pay off,” head coach Dan Schinnerer said.

The Bison will host the 2017 Patriot League Championship at Kinney Natatorium. All 10 Patriot League teams will participate in a plethora of swimming and diving events from Feb. 15–18. Events will include freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly races, as well as team and individual medley heats and diving competition. Each day of competition begins mid-morning with preliminary qualifying heats, and concludes each evening at 6 p.m. with the final heats. Both the men’s and women’s teams look to continue their history of strong postseason performances again this year.

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