Come October, you can typically find the Shippensburg University men’s and women’s swimming teams taking to the lanes in Donald N. Miller Pool in Heiges Field House for competition and practices.
But in a COVID-19 coronavirus landscape, the swim teams’ competitive schedules and traditional routine have seen a complete flip of the script.
In order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) implemented a uniform weekly schedule of virtual meets that each institution across the conference will follow. With these guidelines in place, each school is allotted a specific time window, followed by a certain time to submit their results. Additionally, with the absence of officials at these virtual meets, the results are solely meant for seeding times at the PSAC Championships in April.
Saturday marked the Raiders first competitive meet of their 2020-21 season. And to say it was different is an understatement.
The men’s team, which is coming off a 5-2 2019-20 campaign, had a handful of swimmers touch the wall in impeccable times.
Freshman Michael Salvatori turned on the afterburners in the 100 and 200 backstroke, as well as the 400 IM. Salvatori made a statement in his SU debut, outswimming his fellow Raiders with times of 54.61, 1:56.29 and 4:11.43. His 4:11.43 time in the 400 individual medley came seconds off a pool record.
Junior Andrew Hale dominated in the 200 free and 200 IM with times of 1:46.39 and 1:57.11.
Senior Hunter Heck — who was honored with fellow senior distance swimmer Eric Zimmerman — tallied first in the 50 and 100 freestyle, pulling out impressive legs to hit times of 22.13 and 48.53. He also finished second in the 100 butterfly in 56.00.
Junior Matt Bochanski, 2020 PSAC champion and SU record holder in the 200 breaststroke, cruised to top times of 59.53 and 2:10.29 in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Freshman Matt Beard claimed victory with a 54.91 time in the 100 butterfly.
Rounding out the men’s squad was redshirt-freshman Jacob Greenwood, who flourished in the long-distance events. Greenwood notched top marks in the 500 and 1000 freestyle, hitting times of 4:53.36 and 10:24.06.
The women’s team, which finished their 2019-20 season with a 4-5 record, did not seem to miss a beat in the pool Saturday with the freshman class taking control.
Freshman Michaela Hersh came out hot off the blocks, paving the way to four first-place finishes. Hersh shined in her collegiate debut taking the top nods in the 200 and 400 IM, the 200 freestyle and the 200 butterfly. Her times included 2:14.64, 4:43.47, 2:01.08 and 2:18.32.
Hersh’s freshman counterpart, Alyssa Tomb, also had a noteworthy debut. Tomb tallied the best times in the 200 breaststroke and 1,000 freestyle, with paces of 2:36.92 and 11:20.75. She also placed second in the 500 freestyle behind freshman Marissa Bitner, who claimed the best time with a 5:23.00 mark.
Freshman Samantha Taylor added to the class’ growing resume, notching two top finishes of her own in the 50 and 100 freestyle, claiming times of 25.70 and 56.01.
Junior Tomomi Nakano, a three-time PSAC place-winner, continued her normal success in the 100 and 200 backstroke. She hit the wall with times of 1:00.22 and 2:13.09.
Junior Natalie Wiley bested her teammates in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.51) and senior Mari Reott finished first in the 100 butterfly (1:01.05).
The Raiders next virtual meet at Donald N. Miller Pool has yet to be scheduled.