It was a record-setting weekend at the America East Conference Championship for the Binghamton men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, despite respective runner-up and fifth-place finishes. The Bearcats finished the four-day event with a combined 22 medals to snap the program record, setting a handful of individual records in the process.
“We put an awful lot of hard work in this year, so it was rewarding to perform as well as we did to close out a heck of a great season,” head coach Sean Clark said. “Our medal haul was pretty huge. It was fun to get a lot of great recognition.”
Three teams competed on the men’s side, with UMBC capturing the title for the ninth time in 10 years and Maine taking third. On the women’s side were five teams, with New Hampshire coming out on top for the first time since 2006.
Freshman Brian McKenna propelled the men to their best finish in more than five years, earning the Most Outstanding Rookie award after finishing atop all freshmen with 50.5 points. His performance helped the Bearcats to a program-best 856 points.
McKenna concluded his championship outing with a first-place finish in the 100 free on Sunday. The rookie also took gold as a member of the 200 and 400 medley relay teams, and added a second-place finish in the 50 free and a finalist finish in the 100 back.
“I thought [McKenna] really stepped up and matured pretty quickly for us, and his freshmen classmates were right with him,” Clark said.
Rookie Eric Farm set a pair of freshman program records for BU with his times in the 100 back and 200 back, which earned him bronze in each, and freshman Tommy Cummings picked up a gold in the 100 breast.
Senior Josh Saccurato also shone for the men, picking up a gold, silver and bronze medal in the 400 IM, 200 IM and 200 butterfly, respectively. He was also a member of the first-place 400 medley relay team.
Classmate Tim Cabasino became the first Binghamton athlete to win two gold medals since 2009, winning the 100 fly and 50 free. He also swam a leg in the 400 and 200 medley relay teams.
Sophomore Devin Zdanowski turned in an all-conference performance with a second-place finish in the three-meter dive after grabbing third in the one-meter board. Zdanowski qualified for the one-meter board in the NCAA Zone Diving Competition with his performance. He qualified for the three-meter dive two weeks ago and will head to Virginia Tech the second weekend of March to compete.
On the women’s side, sophomore Imani Williams highlighted Binghamton’s outing with a first-place performance in the three-meter dive, becoming the first ever Binghamton diver to win gold at the conference championship. Her score of 272.8 snapped the 6-year-old program record. Williams also took bronze in the one-meter board, making her the first BU diver, later joined by Zdanowski, to earn two medals at the AE Championship.
“[Williams’] win on the three meter board was dramatic and a joy to watch,” Clark said.
The women’s 200 medley relay team, made up of senior Olivia Baczek and sophomores Corinne Zotter, Caitlin Kelly and Shannon Lampe, broke a record of its own, recording a time of 1:44.56 for a fourth-place finish.
Baczek, Kelly, Zotter and senior Caitlin Nelson also set a program record in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:35.78, again good for fourth.
Zotter earned All-Conference Honors with a second-place performance in the 200 breaststroke. In the consolation round, junior Lauren Flower broke the program record with a time of 2:17.64, good for first. Flower also won the 400 IM consolation final on Saturday.
“I think the swim of the meet on the women’s side has to be Lauren Flower in the 200 breaststroke … ” Clark said. “She won the consolation final, but she had the second-best time in the conference, so she finished ninth but she should’ve been second. But it was kind of neat because we did get second place with Corinne Zotter.”
Lampe’s 57.99 finish in the 100 back consolation final earned her first place and third all-time in program history.
The Bearcats are set to conclude their season March 1-3 at the ECAC Championship at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool.