Making a splash

Swimming and Diving team returns after undefeated season

swimming

Splash after splash rang off the walls of the Alumni Arena pool and natatorium Saturday. The Bulls opened up their season in an exhibition against the Cornell Big Red where the Bulls won.

Buffalo finished its season 8-0 last year, sweeping the competition in what was one of the best years in program history. The Bulls finished third at the Mid-American Conference swimming and diving championships, tying a program best finish. This Friday, the Bulls return to the pool for their first meet of the year against the MAC champion Akron Zips.

“I think we're in a really good spot right now," said head coach Andy Bashor. “We're seven weeks into it and we have been very healthy and the girls have put in a lot of really good work. They're bringing excitement and enthusiasm to practice every day and that's spilled over this weekend seeing that excitement.”

The Bulls lost 10 seniors, including Megan Burns. Burns holds seven school records and anchored the freestyle relay teams. 

“I feel like we're all improving so instead of having one really good person we're all getting really good to equal out the loss a little bit,” said junior sprinter Andrea Ernst. “I feel like it's going to be a little bit of an adjustment but we can all fill in her shoes.”

Leading the charge this season is sophomore butterfly and backstroker Nicole Roitenberg and Ernst.

Roitenberg is set to build off of her freshman year when she placed fourth in the 200-yard backstroke at the MAC championships. Roitenberg was named to the second team All-MAC last year.

“I feel like swimming is an individual sport but it's so much team as well,” Roitenberg said. “If you don't do well then you feel more like you are giving up on your team not just yourself. You want to touch first and out touch other people for your team.”

Ernst was named to the second team All-MAC as well and finished with a silver medal in the 400-relay event at the championships last season.

The Bulls took the victory in the 200-freestyle relay against Cornell. The team featuring Ernst and Burns’ sister junior Katelyn Burns finished with a time of 1:33.77.

The Bulls claimed the top spots in the 500-freestyle event and the top three in the 50-yard butterfly as senior Catherine Schultheis collected her second victory of the day with a time of 25.85. 

Roitenberg and Ernst secured the top two positions in the 100-yard backstroke event. Roitenberg finished with an impressive 55.69 time.

“Our team is special and different from other teams,” Roitenberg said. “Yeah we're competing against each other, but we bring each other up. It’s competitive but not to the point where it’s destroying the team. We're just lifting each other up and encouraging one another.”

The Bulls’ first meet of the season will not be as easy going as the Cornell exhibition. Buffalo takes on Akron, the number one team in the MAC.

Akron won the MAC championships by a commanding 237 points. In the preseason coaches poll, the Zips received all eight first-place votes and were picked to win the championships again. Buffalo placed fourth.

“I would expect third or second,” Ernst said. 

“We’ll show them,” Roitenberg added.

Bashor was not as bothered by the result.

“I think it gives us something to prove. [A] preseason poll means nothing,” Bashor said. “It’s a long season and you're asking somebody in October what’s going to happen in late February, early March. There's a lot of things that can happen. We can use that to our advantage and not getting the respect we deserve.”

The Bulls will get their first attempt this Friday at Akron beginning at 5 p.m.

Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter at @NateMendelson