In one of their last meets before Big East Championships, which begins in late February, the men and women’s swimming & diving teams hosted Penn State on Friday. Although both of head coach Rick Simpson’s teams lost to their Nittany Lion counterparts (W: 159-139, M: 175-110), this meet served an important purpose for the Wildcats as they prepare for the most important stretch of their season.
“I thought we swam great,” Simpson said. “It’s a really, really difficult time of the year as we transition from hard training to taper training. I think we performed much better than I thought we would.”
Nittany Lions head coach Tim Murphy complimented both the level of his competition as well as how his team performed, saying, “Villanova tested us certainly, across the board, so it was a good day for us.”
Regardless of how the Nittany Lions performed in comparison, Simpson was pleased especially with the performance of both his men and women’s sprinters, explaining, “they usually need the most rest out of most people, so that can go either way. I thought they had some great speed.”
Specifically, on the women’s side, senior Taylor Wilson finished first in the 50-free with freshman Abbey Berloco placing in second. Wilson also placed second in the 100-free behind sophomore teammate Milly Routledge. On the men’s side, sophomores JJ Strain and Francis Pirkasky finished first and second in the 100-breast, respectively.
Routledge took first place in the 200-free, and the women’s team picked up the program’s only podium sweep of the day as senior Darby Goodwin, senior Kathleen Miszkiewicz, and freshman Grace Wielar finished in that order in the 200-back. Routledge picked up her third first place finish on the day as she anchored the 200-free relay team, following strong performances from Wilson, Berloco, and senior Samantha Cheruk.
The Wildcats also found success on the diving boards, as junior Bridie Dunn placed first in the 1-meter dive and second in the 3-meter competition.
The Wildcats now have some time off before their next meet, which is the Big East Championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center beginning on Feb. 20.