Courtesy: Iona College Athletics
NEW ROCHELLE, NY – When the Iona College men’s and women’s swimming and diving team walked off the pool deck in Buffalo at the Erie Community College Natatorium in February of 2019, there was a huge feeling of accomplishment, sparked by determination.
The women’s team had just wrapped up the program’s best finish ever, placing second behind the winner of three consecutive titles, Fairfield University. The Iona men ended up in fourth with the most points scored in four years and a half-dozen new team records.
“It is always about getting better,” said head coach Nick Cavataro – now in his 41st season. “If each swimmer can get better, the team results will come. We have a lot of talent and solid leadership…then COVID hit.”
“The college, along with Director of Athletics Matt Glovaski were very supportive of us getting back in the water to practice and giving our kids an opportunity to train and compete. We had nearly 100 percent of members return to campus. Our testing policy was in place. However, there were always unknowns.”
“As with many schools, we had our share of positive cases, despite the best efforts to stay safe. We were out of the water from October to February,” Cavataro said. “When we got the go ahead to get back in the water on February 1, the team was determined to make the most of it.”
“We built up slowly with our water and dryland practices and within three weeks, there were signs we were getting fitter and better. Our Maroon & Gold Meet on March 6 was a big success. Our travel meet to Fairfield saw us win both the men’s and women’s meets and then we had the MAAC Invite meet this past Monday and Tuesday.”
Without the 10-team Championship meet on the schedule, the MAAC coaches developed the 2021 MAAC invitational, serving as the de facto MAAC Championship. Small clusters of schools would swim head-to-head, submit results and declare an Invitational winner.
Seven of the 10 MAAC teams competed, and the Iona women and men put together a great finish to the year.
With scoring from nearly every roster member on both the men’s and women’s team, swimming head-to-head with Fairfield over two days, the Iona women tallied 734.50 points to top Canisius at 525, followed by Niagara (497.5), Fairfield (415), Monmouth (382), Rider (203) and Manhattan (107).
The Iona men posted 733 points, with Fairfield behind them at 581.50, followed by Monmouth (476), Niagara (476), Canisius (386), Manhattan (126) and Rider (18).
2021 MAAC Invitational Recap (Women)
2021 MAAC Invitational Recap (Men)
Leading the way for the Iona women was senior Kate Flynn. The Ossining, New York resident continued her remarkable streak of improvement, taking the overall top spot in the 50-free (23.58); the 100-free (school record time of 51.23) and the 100-butterfly (56.55), as well as taking gold in the 200 and 400-yard medley relays as well in the 400-free relay.
On the men’s side, freshman Michael Faughnan of Hopewell Junction, New York dominated, taking the top spot in the 200, 500 and 1,000-free with respective Iona record times of 1:39.37, 4:26.80 and 9:09.78.
Women silver medalists include sophomore Isabella Nicholson in the 200-free (1:55.64); senior Kate DiRaimo in both the 100-breaststroke (1:07.27) and the 200-breaststroke (2:25.81) and sophomore Luiza DaSilveira in the 200-backstroke (2:08.54).
Silver medalists on the men’s side included: senior Gabriel Finch in the 200-butterfly (1:50.62); junior Aidan Holbrook in the 100-freestyle (46.59); senior Spencer Moran in the 100-backstroke (50.70) and 200-backstroke (1:51.14) and senior Robert Wisniewski in the 400-individual medley (4:07.50).
Bronze medalists included senior Adrienne Bilello in the 1,000-free (10:45.03); senior Isabelle Pabon in the 400-individual medley (4:37.79), senior Kendall Paolicelli in the 200-breaststroke (2:26.16) and junior Taylor Spillman in the 500-free (5:14.33) and the 200-butterfly (2:08.35).
Men’s bronze medalists included junior Daniel Hadary in the 200-freestyle (1:40.97) and 500-freestyle (4:34.75); Holbrook in the 50-free (21.39); freshman Matthew Loftus in the 100-breaststroke (57.52); junior Jackson Madonia in the 400-individual medley (4:09.19); junior Jalen Ramjohn in the 100-butterfly (49.64); sophomore David Son in the 200-backstroke (1:55.67); and Wisniewski in the 1,000-free (9:46.18).
Other women scoring in the top-16 included Riley Baron, Grace Curry, Sarah Flaherty, Megan Josephs, Katherine Lee, Willow Lopez-Silvers, Brianna Mulcahy, Meghan Pattison, Rebecca Sembrano, Sydney Ruschmeier and Tristan Urso.
“This is a very positive, determined and focused group and we should celebrate the hard work and sacrifice that went into this season and meet. I’m confident they will use this to continue to build to the 2022 MAAC Championships, ” commented Cavataro.