Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Xavier Swimming Off to Strong Start in Rebuilding Year

Xavier swimming improved to 4-1 with a 103-81 victory over Hamden at Wesleyan’s Freeman Athletic Center on Tuesday night. The win was the teams fourth in a row after the Falcon’s season-opening loss.

Xavier slowly build a lead with a 1-3 finish in the 200-yard free and with Stephen Russo and Greg Brown finishing in the top two spots in the 200 IM, in 2:18.04 and 2:19.60 respectively. From there the Falcons seized control of the meet. Xavier earned first place in nine of the 12 events and also finished either second or third in seven of those events. The team found an impressive level of consistency that never left the contest’s outcome in doubt.

Xavier’s first place winners were Steve Russo in the 200 IM (2:18.04), Greg Brown in the 100 fly (1:01.46), Mike Pimer in the 100 back (1:05.46) and Matt Lyons in the 100 breast (1:08.97). Xavier was victorious in the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay with times of 1:54.49 and 1:39.97. Rob Doudenhoff was the Falcons multiple winner with victories in both the 50 and 100 free (24.68 and 55.06). In addition to their victories, Lyons, Pimer, Brown and Russo had second place finishes in the 200 free, 200 IM, 100 fly and 100 breast.

Head Coach Leandra Manos was happy not only with her team’s victory but especially with their strong start to the season. Xavier has beaten not only Hamden but also North Haven/North Branford, Foran and Shelton.

“We have steadily improved throughout the season,” said Manos. “We’re in a rebuilding year, but a lot of guys have stepped up and gotten better after the team lost some of its best swimmers before the season. Our strongest swimmers have taken on a big load.”

Manos cited freshman Mike Pimer and seniors Stephen Russo and Greg Brown as the swimmers who had carried Xavier, praising the trio for their versatility and ability to finish in the top three in any event. Each swimmer backed her proclamation up by winning a race and anchoring the first three legs of the 200 medley relay.

The Falcons schedule becomes much more challenging from here on out. After traveling to Notre Dame-next Wednesday, Xavier faces perennial standouts Glastonbury, Cheshire and Fairfield Prep in the remaining five weeks of the schedule. Manos understands that her team has some struggles ahead of them. But if they continue to exhibit the same growth they have shown up to this point, in the season, the coach can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I am never satisfied with our performance,” said Manos. “I am always looking at the performance of other teams and the times of other top swimmers and comparing them to our team. We have a lot of room for improvement. But if they continue to improve physically, then we will continue to do well.”

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