Swimming and Diving move on to The America East Championship, are they ready to take back the title?
After a strong regular season, the Wildcats are looking to take back what UMBC snagged last year: The America East Championship. The America East Championships will take place at WPI in Worcester, Mass. from February 13 to February 16.
The ‘Cats went 5-1 on the year with their only loss coming to a strong Northeastern team in a tightly contested matchup that was decided by a single event. With a conference record of 4-0, the Wildcats are a strong team heading into this meet and are one of the favorites considering how balanced of a team they are. With Corinne Carbone, Allison Stefanelli and Anna Burns being the only senior swimmers, this team has a young core that can help them win and advance to nationals.
This is nothing new for Anna Metzler, Corinne Carbone, Allison Stefanelli and Anna Burns as they have all been to the America East Championships and have all placed pretty well there. Carbone has the most extensive track record on the team as she has placed first on six different occassions and has a top finish in the 400 Individual Medley at the National Invitational in 2019. She could be one of the best swimmers in the country alongside Anna Metzler, but it is yet to be seen if they can prove it at nationals this year.
When speaking with Carbone about her younger teammates, she had a lot of good things to say about them.
“The (first year) class is really strong, the sophomores are really strong.” She continued to say, “we don’t really have a weak spot on the team, and they bring a little extra energy with them to help us out.”
Carbone has gotten some recent competition from her teammate, Metzler, as she competes in the same events and is already one of the best swimmers in the country. When asked about the competition between the two, Metzler expressed her gratitude towards it.
“We push each other together and it’s like a back and forth. It’s really helpful having somebody who can push you to do your best each and every set.”
Metzler stormed on to the swimming scene last year as the German native broke UNH first-year records and won America East Rookie of the year. She has been an absolute force in the pool and she holds top times in multiple events in the America East. In the mid-season BU Terrier Invitational, she was able to put up a time that was one second behind what she possibly needs for this meet. “I look more at my time last year at this meet and it was two seconds faster than the one I swam at BU, so I just try to get myself in a good position to win the competition. Looking back, it should give me confidence knowing I can do that mid-season, but my focus is how can I win now.”
Meanwhile, the diving team has two seniors with Stefanelli and Burns who are able to use their experience to help the younger divers especially with Stefanelli being injured this past fall. Burns is confident that Stefanelli can get back in her groove.
“Even though she was out for a while, she’s been diving for so long that she has picked up a lot and has gotten back to her stuff really fast…. she’s dialed in.”
Head coach Josh Willman expects the diving squad to perform in this meet.
“Allison (Stefanelli) couldn’t compete in the fall but she’s such a beautiful diver and has so much experience that she can rely on that, we’ll work in more hurdles as we go but she should be good to go.” Stefanelli was able to claim first last year in the three-meter dive and is looking to do the same this year.
Anna Burns has had an unusual route to become a leader on this team and she thinks it has helped her become a better diver. “Being a gymnast before kind of helps me because everything in the air is the same, it’s just about learning how to land on your head and not your feet. Body awareness and technique is the same, so it made the transition easier, but they are two very different sports.”
With UMBC winning nationals last year, it could bring a little more incentive to win it this year, but Carbone thinks going into it with no emotions is the way to go.
“I think having won two years ago and knowing that feeling brings more motivation rather than losing it ast year when had a smaller team and they we able to outswim and out dive us but this year it should be a good fight since we have a deeper roster.”