The normally calm Connolly Center pools erupted with raucous energy this past Saturday as Seattle University’s swim teams took on their rival, Simon Fraser University (SFU). The constant sound of cheering, and occasional sound of cowbells, echoed off the cavernous walls and the pool deck was crowded with swimmers performing their pre-race rituals: stretching, jumping and dancing behind the swim blocks.
In this energetic atmosphere, the men’s team (1-2) faced little competition beating SFU by over 100 points, 185.5-73.5. The energy intensified for the women’s team (2-4) resulting in a narrow loss for the Redhawks, 132.5-125.5.
Head coach Craig Nisgor, who is in his seventh year leading the Redhawks, was proud of all his swimmers, regardless of the score.
“We’re still in heavy training,” he explained, and they’re “not backing down” from the workouts anytime soon. “People are pushing through. You can see with some people the training is taking its toll. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close races out. Well, that’s going to come with a lot more rest and a lot more work.”
“The team knows they need to swim fast when they’re tired,” Nisgor said.
As far as times go, they did, with swimmers breaking personal bests and keeping up with record times. Paige Treff, for example, tied the pool record in the 50-yard freestyle.
For Nisgor, it was important that the Redhawks supported their teammates during races. With two events left, he pulled the team together for a pep talk.
“Lay down everything you have,” he said. “Let’s get out there and be as loud as we can!”
Fortunately, the next race, the men’s 200-yard individual medley, was one worth making noise about. For the first half of the race, SFU swimmer Rolando Hernandez steadily pulled ahead of Seattle U’s Ben Nussbaum, gaining a full body length lead–two whole seconds–through the butterfly and backstroke legs.
Nussbaum made an impressive comeback though, using his strength in breaststroke to catch Hernandez. For the final two laps of the race, the two were neck-in-neck, and shocked the pool by tying the race with a time of 1:55.68.
Men’s captain Jack Baldoni saw his team’s strong performance at the meet as a good sign for the future. “This early, the times we’re putting up are looking good for the Husky Invitational and our whole season,” he said.
Nisgor was also confident about the future, and proud of his swimmers’ hard work.
“There were a bunch of lifetime-best swims today,” he said, “and we’re in the middle of the season—we’re not even in the middle of the season, we’re less than two months into our training! So to have that happen is pretty good.”
Sam may be reached at