Luke Henne | Sports Editor
Feb. 24, 2022
The Duquesne women’s swimming and diving team took home a second-place finish on Saturday in the 2022 Atlantic 10 Swimming and Diving Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
After finishing the event with a score of 509 total points, the Dukes finished behind only the George Washington Colonials, who secured the top spot with a score of 701.5 total points. They were able to finish slightly ahead of the Richmond Spiders, who finished in third place with a total score of 487 points.
With the second-place position, Duquesne earned its eighth-consecutive finish in the top three at the A-10 Championships. In what has become a program of consistency, Head Coach David Sheets has guided the program to either a championship or a runner-up finish in six of the last seven seasons.
“It’s extremely rewarding and hasn’t come easy,” Sheets said. “I’ve been here for 21 years. There was a time when we weren’t able to talk about competing for conference championships. We were more concerned with not finishing last.
“Once we got over that hump and started to put the recruiting pieces together and establish our team identity, it got easier. We began creating our own success.”
Mendy De Rooi took home a gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle, breaking the school record with a time of 49.28 seconds, also a personal best.
Despite her individual success, her team’s achievements took precedence.
“Everyone on this team has worked hard this year,” De Rooi said. “Even though they might not have won or placed [in the] top three, they still swam well for themselves, and I think that is what’s important.”
Hanna Everhart, who competed in the championship final of the 100-yard freestyle, finished with a time of 50.69 seconds, good for fourth place.
“In the moments after each of my races, I love to look at my teammates, coaches and family and friends in the stands, who are all so supportive of me,” Everhart said. “I love to understand in that moment that all my hard work, early mornings and sore muscles were worth it.”
Everhart said that this weekend’s success wouldn’t have been possible if not for a collective relentless work ethic throughout the course of the season.
“Our team reaps success due to the countless 20-hour weeks we all put in together,” Everhart said. “It makes it that much more sweet because we earned this success. Maintaining that level of success requires diligent hard work. However, [my teammates] should be confident in their abilities because it has been and will be attainable for years to come.”
Haley Scholer earned a third-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke event with a time of one minute, 56.71 seconds. Her time, which was a personal best, subsequently allowed her to reach the podium.
“When I found out I got a medal, I started crying,” Scholer said. “After all those long practices and not hitting my best time this season, it was rewarding to see it all pay off in the end.
“My training partner [Reagan Linkous] had done the math and just this season we had done over a million yards. So to have everything come together after [all of] those yards is all I can ask for.”
Scholer echoed Everhart’s thoughts, knowing that the success was due in large part to the comradery in the locker room.
“When you spend every day with the same people and you all get to have that feeling of success at the same time, it’s something that can’t be replicated,” Scholer said.
She also believes that being picked to finish fourth in the conference’s preseason poll added a little bit of extra motivation.
“I think that it really shows what we are able to do when we just work together and put our heads down and race,” Scholer said.
With such a foundation for success already in place, the team has a blueprint for more success in the coming years.
“We can always be better, and as a staff, we have to continue to figure out how to get the most out of every single one of our swimmers and divers,” Sheets said. “How can each one experience the success they want? How much are they willing to work and sacrifice?
“Once we do that, then we are growing as a program because now the athletes are growing. Winning becomes a byproduct of growth and all of the pieces falling together at the right time in February.”
For now, they’re going to savor this moment.
“I truly believe our team is a family,” Everhart said. “We work hard together, celebrate successes together and fight through failures together.
“Understanding that you have a group of girls, coaches and athletic training staff to support you when you get up behind the block contributes to a winning mindset for the race ahead. We know who we’re doing it all for.”