Last February, longtime St. Mary’s College of Maryland head swim coach Andre Rudolph Barbins was arrested on child pornography charges, right before the team hosted the CAC championships. “The swim needs to build a new name for itself, the events of last season did not involve any member of the team nor reflect upon the team as a whole in any way. The swim team’s reputation as some of this campus’ hardest working student-athletes still stands,” states men’s senior captain Matt Walchuck.
Casey Brandt, the former coach of the Chesapeake Bay Aquatic Club, has since taken over the helm of both the men and women’s swim teams. Brandt swam collegiately at Loyola College of Maryland and was named swimmer of the year for his conference in 1995. At the Chesapeake Bay Athletic Club, he helped swimmers reach competitions such as U.S. Sectionals, Junior Nationals, and Olympic trials.
Over the past few years, the swim program at St. Mary’s has been relatively successful. However, under Brandt’s guidance, the team is looking to improve not only their performance in season, but at the end of the year championships as well. As a team, the men finished with a seven and four record in 2015, while boasting an impressive four and one record in conference. Their only conference loss was to Mary Washington, who has not lost a conference title since 1999. The women’s team finished their season at six and five with a three and two record in the Capital Athletic Conference. Their biggest win of the year was against Goucher on October 31, 2015, defeating the Gophers 135.5 to 68.5.
Despite this success, the Seahawk swimmers are still striving to get better and have been doing the extra work needed to do so. Success in season is strongly linked to the dedication put in out of season for the swimmers. “This year, our coach has revamped the program, offering more practice hours, technique training, a new weightlifting program, and more individualized practices attuned to the strengths of each individual member of the team. My fellow teammates and I are working harder both in and out of the water in order to swim our races stronger, faster, and smarter than anyone else in the conference” explains Walchuck.
Walchuck strongly believes that the coaches are doing a major part in helping the team members develop into better swimmers. “Our coaches continually make a daily effort to fine-tune stroke techniques and correct stroke execution in order to eventually race our best at our championship meet in February. In general, this year we’ve brought the program up to a new level of intensity, with many of my teammates looking to break school records and reach new levels of swimming success.”
Despite both the men’s and women’s squads opening up the season with losses to Marymount on October 29, the team still has the whole season in front of them. They are going to keep their same approach, as they still have plenty of time to show the conference what they are made of. Walchuck concludes: “Our approach to the season has always been and remains with a focus on performing our best at conference championships in February. While dual meets throughout the season are an excellent opportunity to race, we by no means taper our practice and workout schedule in preparation for these meets. We are all training to the fullest of our capacity each day in anticipation of bringing the St. Mary’s swimming program further success at championships.”
Currently, there are twelve male swimmers and eleven female swimmers for St. Mary’s. The men’s team is captained by Andrew Braker, Andrew Braun, and Matt Walchuck. The captains for the women’s team are Samantha Liming. Rachel Sonnenberg, and Lizzie Straathof.