Ending the 2017-18 season as runners-up at the America East (AE) Championships, the Binghamton men’s swimming and diving team looks to finish the upcoming season as champions. There is good reason for the team to express optimism for the 2018-19 campaign, as the team will be led by many of last season’s top performers.
After being named the AE Swimming & Diving Scholar-Athlete for the 2017-18 season, junior swimmer Ross Bernstein looks to continue strengthening his résumé. At last season’s AE Championship, he finished second in the 200 butterfly and 400 IM, as well as fourth in the 200 IM. The previous season, Bernstein set a freshman record in the 200 fly.
Despite the departure of former diver Ryan O’Connell, the Bearcats’ returning divers have a track record of strong performances in the AE. Conference champion sophomore David Walters finished first in the one-meter dive and was later named diver of the meet, while senior Colin Coughlan also landed in the event’s top-10.
Binghamton was littered all over the top-10 in the 50 free event. Of the five swimmers to place, only fly/free swimmer Amit Bachar graduated. Seniors Alex Brion and Matthew DeVito join sophomores Patrick Wilson and Shane Morris in returning to the team for this season.
Optimism for Binghamton’s swimming and diving program extends to its women’s team, which hopes to improve on last season’s performance. The 2017-18 regular season was one of the best in program history.
The Bearcats had a fourth-place finish at last season’s AE Championship and were led by record-setting sophomore Kaitlyn Smolar. At the championship, Smolar broke four freshman records, including finishing top-five in the 1650 and the 500 prelims.
Sophomore Erica Bachiller also set Binghamton freshman records at the championship with a 2:02.73 time for the 200 backstroke and a time of 55.68 for the 100 backstroke.
Junior Rebecca Nelson’s seventh-place finish in the 200 breaststroke event shows that she is more than capable of filling the void left by former swimmer Maria Trivino. Trivino came in fifth place in the 200 breast, but graduated in the spring.
BU had a notable showing in the 100 fly when senior Brooke Pettis tied for first, while former fly swimmer Courtney Foley finished in sixth. Pettis, a conference champion, became the first Bearcat to capture a gold medal in these championships.
Binghamton’s first test of the season will be when it welcomes New Jersey Institute of Technology and University of Vermont on Oct. 6 for its first meet of the 2018-19 season.
This will be the first meet for Ron Farina as head coach of NJIT men’s swimming and diving. The veteran coach replaced Michael Lawson. NJIT finished last season with a 6-8 record, but concluded by winning only its last two meets.
For the sixth year in a row, UVM came in third place at the AE Championships and has finished with winning records for 14 straight seasons. The team will be led by seniors Julia DeGregorio and Sara Meyer and junior Sophia Smith. All three women were named captains by head coach Gerry Cournoyer for the upcoming season.
For the Bearcats, BU head coach Brad Smith did not feel that the team will lack any motivation during the season since the program’s winning mentality stems from its leadership core.
“Every year we’ve had better and better leadership from the captains, and this year’s leaders on both sides, men’s and women’s, have just set a tone right away,” Smith said.
Binghamton looks to take advantage of its energetic home environment as it kicks off its season with three consecutive home meets.
“There’s not a place I’ve ever been in my entire coaching career like our pool, our facility,” Smith said. “We pack the house for our home meets, and the fans give us, they give us a little extra. To my knowledge, we are the only swim team that has parents tailgate.”
Binghamton’s next event is its Green vs. White intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. The meet is expected to begin at 11 a.m. at the Patricia A. Saunders Aquatic Center in Vestal, New York.