By Andrew Knowlton, County Times
Note: This story, as well as other community news stories from St. Mary's County, will appear in the Nov. 16 edition of
The County Times that will appear on local newsstands this Thursday.
For three seasons, the St. Mary's College men's and women's swim teams did not have a facility on campus. The result: they had to travel to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station for practice each day, which caused many difficulties for the team as a whole.
"Our numbers definitely dropped," coach Andre Barbins said. "It was a trying time, but we still had a lot of kids come through and we still competed."
Now, the team has a top-notch facility that is comparable to the best in the country, and the team is starting to see some payoff.
The women's team has won their last three matchups. Most recently, they defeated York 122-83, winning nine of 11 events. They will look to increase their streak this weekend as they face Hood and Gallaudet on Friday and Washington College and Randolph-Macon Saturday at home.
Sophomore Brie McDowell set a new school record in the meet against York in the 200 individual medley, a record that had remained intact since 1999. Her time of 2:14.01 broke the previous record by 1.82 seconds.
"Usually we don't break records until conference championships when they rest for those, so it's nice to see that happen in the middle of the year," Barbins said.
The girls 200 freestyle relay also had an impressive finish, according to Barbins. The team consisted of McDowell, Rachel Hotchko, Dominique Perez and Eleanor Koerner. They beat York by almost seven seconds in the race.
Hotchko also finished with a strong time of 2:29.98 in the 200 butterfly, earning nine points along with first place.
The men's team has a record of 1-3, but Barbins feels that they are starting to come together.
"Our depth is now up, we've got more talent," he said. "So we just need to start working on the little things. We've faced really tough opponents. Both York and Marymount finished in the top three in our conference last year."
The construction of the new pool took a toll on the team in the last few year, but with hard work and recruiting in upcoming years, the process of rebuilding should be smooth.
"During the construction our numbers dropped considerably just because it was tough not having a facility on campus," Barbins said. "But we're gonna' start seeing that payoff now with bigger classes. We're hoping to bring in another big recruiting class next year, so we'll get our men's roster up to 18 guys as well, up where the women are."
Freshman Cameron Buckingham led the men's side with a victory in the 200 individual medley posting a time of 2:07.81 and came in second in the 100 freestyle in 51.40.
"He's starting to come around. He's gonna' be one of the kids that we look towards all season long," Barbins said.
Sophomore Bobby Wiley finished second in the 1000 freestyle (11:17.39) and third in the 500 freestyle (5:30.49). Fellow classmate Mike Preston had a strong day as well, placing second in the 200 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle in times of 1:53.85 and 52.02 seconds in those events.
Buckingham and the rest of the Seahawks will continue their season this weekend with double dual meets, starting with Hood and Gallaudet tomorrow at 6 p.m.
"As far as the conference goes we're facing some tough opponents," Barbins said. "But hopefully we'll enjoy a little home-cookin' this weekend again back home."