Men's and Women's Swim Get Ready to Start Season

As the end of October approaches, Villanova’s swimming and diving teams are preparing for the 2021-22 season. On Oct. 16, the women’s team competed in its game opener at the Wolff-Zackin Natatorium of the University of Connecticut, winning 166.4-133.5. This first win was a strong start for the Villanova swimming and diving teams as they come off great success from last season. 

At its meet against UConn, Villanova won 12 events with particularly dominant performances by graduate student Milly Routledge, senior Kelly Montesi, senior Nicole Welch, senior Abbey Berloco, senior Katelin Gravell and graduate student Elizabeth Bailey. Both Routledge and Montesi were triple winners, and Gravell was a double winner. 

The ‘Cats found particular success in the freestyle races. Welch won the 500 free with a time of 5:06.12 and the 1000 free with a time of 10:31.99. Routledge finished first in the 50 with a time of 23.77, the 100 with a time of 51.82 and the 200 with a time of 1:52.51. In the 200 freestyle, Villanova pulled off a 1-2-3 sweep, with Routledge in first, Welch in a close second with a time of 1:54.99 and Berloco in third with a time of 1:55.17. These three combined for a total of 60 points in the individual freestyle events alone. 

The meet was not a clear win for Villanova from the start. It took Montesi’s 100 back first place win with a time of 56.11 to give the ‘Cats the lead. Later, Montesi also won the 200 back with a time of 2:00.24 and the 100 fly with a time of 54.91. 

Bailey, a graduate student, swam for the first time as a Villanovan in this race. The transfer student from California won the 200 fly for Villanova with a time of 2:05.32. To close out the day, Villanova dominated in the 400 free relay with Berloco, junior Perri Stahl, Montesi and Routledge swimming a combined time of 3:31.16. The team led by just over a second midway through the race until Montesi pulled ahead with a strong third leg. The ‘Cats ended up defeating the Huskies by a final margin of 2.77 seconds. 

This win was reminiscent of last spring's Big East Championship, when Villanova bested UConn in the finals. Last spring, the women’s team brought home its eighth consecutive Big East title, an all-time record for the program. At the end of the match, Villanova amassed a total of 906.5 points to take home the trophy, with second place UConn trailing with a final total of 838 points. 

This championship match truly projected Villanova into success for the 2021-22 season. Beyond winning 11 events at the championships, the team was able to retain many of its key performers. Last year, Montesi was named the Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer, her second time obtaining this award. Behind any strong team, however, is a strong coaching staff. At the end of last year’s season, head coach Rick Simpson and assistant coaches Laura McGlaughlin, Nate Brown and Conor Hassard were named Big East Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year for the eighth straight season. The combination of a strong coaching staff, history and athletes proves for success in the coming season. 

The women’s team is not alone in determining the success of Villanova Swimming and Diving. The men’s squad is coming off of a second-place Big East Championship finish last spring. At the meet, the team won five individual events, along with a combined 15 medals. As for strong player retention, current senior Michael Ackert was named men’s Most Outstanding Diver at the end of the spring season and is prepared to lead the team to continued success this season. Head diving coach Todd Michael was also given a remarkable distinction in the spring, as he was selected as the Big East Men’s Diving Coach of the Year. Between these two and an incredibly strong team, the men are preparing for success in the season. 

Looking forward, the men and women’s teams will be competing at Georgetown University on Oct. 30 for the first combined meet of the season and the first meet of the season for the men. On Nov. 5, the men will head off to the New Jersey Institute of Technology to compete against the Highlanders. Both teams will swim against the University of Pennsylvania on Nov. 10 and later travel to the WVU Invitational, which takes place from Nov. 18-20.