By Andrew Holman | The Duquesne Duke
Eight seniors swam their final laps at Towers pool as Duquesne swimming scored a split decision in a tri-meet, defeating the Xavier Musketeers 195-66, but falling to the Ohio University Bobcats 153.5-107.5.
The Red & Blue are led by a cast of eight seniors: Elizabeth Czachowski, Kylie Dickman, Taylor Kane, Catherine McAllister, Claire Nobles, Samantha Ray, Vanessa Rohm and Morgan Schmidt. Coach David Sheets described these eight swimmers as “all in,” regarding their work ethic and dedication to the program.
“They were really important,” Sheets said of his seniors. “If it wasn’t for those eight ladies, we would probably still be struggling to move ourselves up through the conference rankings.”
Ironically, one of the youngest members of the squad had a major impact on senior night. Freshman Abby Stauffer secured the Dukes’ first top spot of the night, winning the 100 yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.58. Stauffer had two additional top-4 finishes.
Sophomore Gabriella Sibilia was an individual standout as well for the Dukes, breaking the Towers pool record, and tying for first place in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 23.91. She also finished second in the 200 yard freestyle clocking in at 1:54.70.
Sibilia credits much of her success to her senior teammates who have set an example for the entire squad.
“Honestly, the seniors take you in as freshmen and turn you into something great,” Sibilia said. “They teach you so much about academics, school, how to fit in and then there is the swimming aspect. They show you exactly how to race, what you need to do, how to make the team better, and it’s so sad to see them go.”
Senior Sam Ray had a strong final showing at Towers Pool fresh off of being named the Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week on Jan. 19. She finished the night with three top-3 individual finishes.
“It’s bittersweet,” Ray said. “It’s definitely fun to finish with this group of people, so I’ve enjoyed it very much along the way, but I’ll definitely miss it.”
There isn’t much time to dwell in their emotions, though. The A-10 Championships are quickly approaching on Feb. 17.
“Our expectations are to go and swim fast,” Sheets said. “The one thing I’ve always preached to the swimmers is we can’t look at the scoreboard when we’re there. We can’t chase the scoreboard. We need to focus on what we can control and focus on what Duquesne swimming is going to do and if we can do all that, everything else will take care of itself.”
The night ended in fitting fashion for the Dukes as seniors Ray and Nobles captured first place in the 200 yard freestyle relay with some help from the next generation of Duquesne swimmers – Sibilia and freshman Kristen McKnight.
“[I will remember the seniors for their] dedication to the program,” Sheets said. “They have helped our underclassmen understand what it means now to be a Duquesne swimmer.”
The squad takes a trip down Forbes this Saturday to compete in the Western Pennsylvania Invite at Pitt. The meet will begin at 11 a.m. at Trees Pool, which is located just outside the Petersen Events Center in Oakland.