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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Propelling to victory

Along with back-to-back conference and state championships, the women’s swimming and diving team boasts a feat that can’t be seen in their trophy case.

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Sophomore Elizabeth Gawrys swims during practice Monday in the Athletics and Events Center Pool. The Bombers have won 28 straight dual-meets dating back to last season, outscoring opponents by an average of 74 points. KRISTINA STOCKBURGER/THE ITHACAN

With their dual-meet win against SUNY-Geneseo on Nov. 19 in the Athletics and Events Center Pool, the Bombers raised their winning streak in those meets to 28. They have not lost a dual-meet since Nov. 14, 2009, when they lost to Division II competitor Bloomsburg University.

Head Coach Paula Miller said she has been satisfied with her team’s success during the winning streak, but she’s reluctant to dwell on it when motivating the team.

“Overall I’m pleased, but I never look back,” Miller said. “You always have to look toward the future.”

The Blue and Gold shattered the previous record for consecutive wins, which stood at 10, and have been winning by an average margin of 74 points during their current dual-meet streak. The Hartwick College Hawks came the closest to ending the Bombers’ streak with a final tally of 140 points to the Bombers’ 160 in the Nov. 19 meet at the Athletics and Events Center Pool.

Hartwick Head Coach Dale Rothenberger said the Hawks have a healthy rivalry with the Bombers. Each time the two teams face off against each other, they get together in a pregame huddle to motivate each other to do well and remain on the same side of the pool deck during the  rest of the meet, he said.

The Blue and Gold have also earned respect throughout the Empire 8, winning the conference’s title every year since its inception in 2000.

Senior captains Amanda Vitullo and Simone McCarron said team unity and support were the two most important factors for keeping the winning streak alive. During the Bombers’ winning streak, the swimmers and divers have found a way to balance focus with fun. Before the final event of the Ithaca Bomber Invitational on Dec. 2-4, 15 Bomber swimmers lined up on the pool deck and began to dance to the song “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO.

Vitullo said the team dances to keep up its energy and stay loose during a stressful time in the meet.

“Other teams know us for that too, and if we’re not doing it, Paula will say something to us and ask what’s wrong,” Vitullo said. “Swimming can be so mentally hard sometimes that you need to have fun, and our team does a great job of that.”

Vitullo was part of the Blue and Gold’s 200-yard medley relay team that finished ninth at the Ithaca Bomber Invitational. She said the team’s consistent performance is also the result of swimmers and divers setting benchmarks for themselves and the team at each competition.

“You have to prove your worth a lot in every single meet, and not just in one race,” Vitullo said. “You have to prove your value across the board.”

McCarron, who competed in the 500-, 200- and 1,650-yard freestyles at the team’s only home invitational, said versatility allows the team opportunities to experiment with lineups in meets when the team is ahead.

“The specific events depend on our competition,” she said. “If we know it’s going to be a close meet, people are going to be in their best events. But if we know it’s going to be a swing, then we’ll put somebody in an event and see what they can do.”

Vitullo said everyone on the team is receiving support, not only the top swimmers.

“I think our depth is important and has always been really important, and it comes from being supportive of everyone,” she said.