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by Andrew Moffa

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams welcomed the University of Pittsburgh to campus for a two-day meet last weekend.

This meet was the last at the Villanova Swim Complex for the Wildcat seniors, which made it even more emotional and meaningful. The men came up short by a score of 279-74 despite a personal best time by junior Ben Smith. Meanwhile, the women, led by eight seniors, registered a dramtic victory to defeat Pitt 180-171.

In the men’s meet, the Wildcats came out very well on the first day, with numerous swimmers recording second and third-place finishes. Among these swimmers were junior Kyle Grant and senior Russell Paulson.

Similar performances by some other swimmers gave the ’Cats much-needed points on the first day of the meet. Among many impressive performances, Smith made the biggest splash by setting a personal record in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 50.65 seconds.

He also posted a third-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly and was a member of the 200-yard medley relay team which came in second place.

Senior Scott Thiede also swam well on the second day. When asked about the performance by his team in this meet, head coach Rick Simpson was very optimistic in spite of the loss.

“Our men stepped up to the challenge thrown at us from Pitt,” Simpson said. “Many of our men put up some great numbers even in the midst of heavy training. I just think our guys are better athletes than they were in September. They are in a great position for the upcoming Big East Championships.”  The men’s next meet is on Feb. 1 at Richmond.

The women’s last-minute, 180-171 victory over Pitt was characterized by strong performances by the eight seniors, who registered a victory over Pitt for the first time in their Villanova careers.

Combined, these eight swimmers recorded 14 top-finishes over the course of the two-day meet to help lead the Wildcats to a huge victory for the program.

Seniors Roxy Tammadge and Laura McGlaughlin helped lead the charge by each winning two events. Fellow seniors Hayley Edwards, Leigh Anne Patterson, Lindsey Hagens and Erin Malone were also all very impressive in their last-ever meet at the Villanova Swim Complex.

While this victory was due mostly to the effort of the team’s eight seniors, it was a freshman who had the most remarkable individual performance. Kaisla Kollanus recorded three victories, finishing first in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard freestyle.

After leading the meet by 20 points at the end of the first day, the ’Cats could not hold on to their lead, and the entire meet came down to the 400-yard freestyle relay, which the Wildcats won by nearly two seconds. Simpson, who also coaches the Women’s Team, could not have been happier to see his seniors finally defeat Pitt, a long-time rival.

“I was thrilled for our seniors today,” Simpson said. “They have fallen short in three consecutive dual meets against Pitt for their first three years. But their senior year, they got it done!”

The women’s swimming and diving team takes on Richmond on Feb. 1 in their next meet.

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