While most Fordham students were buckling down for a snow-filled weekend, the swimming and diving team competed on Friday in the Bronx against conference rival La Salle and geographic rival Iona. The meet came after a last minute schedule change, when Saturday’s intended meet against the La Salle Explorers and Richmond Spiders in Philadelphia was cancelled. It was the first meet of 2016, and with a seven week break without competition, the Rams were ready to compete.
The women’s team presented a balanced attack in all strokes and distances, which led to two team wins against the Explorers and Iona Gaels. Junior Megan Polaha led the way with three event wins in the 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly and the 400-yard individual medley. Junior Kalena Laurent finished first in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle, while seniors Chandler Lulley and Theresa Goehring finished first in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke, respectively. Junior Marie Feneron won the 200-yard backstroke, while freshman Gabrielle Celia won the 100-yard backstroke. In an interesting finish, freshman Tara Brunner and senior Shannon Lulley tied in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.79 seconds, while Chandler Lulley finished just a tenth of a second behind. The relay teams also took first in the 200-yard medley, with Gabrielle Celia, Chandler Lulley, Shannon Lulley and junior Morgan Fairclough, as well as 200-yard freestyle with Fairclough, C. Lulley, S. Lulley and senior Megan Gray. Sophomore Wendy Espina-Esquival continued her impressive season with a win in the three-meter dive with a score of 289.65.
The men’s team was led by top senior Steve Sholdra, who won three events in the 1000-yard freestyle, 200-yard fly and the 400-yard individual medley. Sholdra’s three event wins were the only ones of the meet, but he was backed up by six second-place finishes, including two by freshman Isiah Magsino in the 100-yard backstroke and the 400-yard individual medley. Freshman Colin Esterine-Reid finished second in the one-meter dive with a score of 215.25. The men’s team had enough points to beat Iona, but fell short of the conference win to La Salle.
Though there was a large break between competitions, the swimming season has just two meets before the Atlantic 10 Championships in Ohio. Meets like this, however, can be a real indicator of where the team stands heading into the home stretch. “This meet was a tough one,” said Laurent. “Having just come off training trip and the first week of classes, we were all physically and mentally drained, but we handled that well and put out some great races.”
While the biggest meet of the season is still a few weeks in the future, being in top form is on everybody’s mind. “In the next few weeks we are going to continue racing tough and get excited for our upcoming Championships,” said Laurent.
Meets against conference opponents like La Salle give some indication of how the team may perform, and the loss of Richmond as an opponent gives Fordham less of a chance to see conference action. While the women’s team hopes to continue their balanced attack, the men could also be a formidable team if a few other swimmers step up with Sholdra to help lead the team.