March 28, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 42°F


Women’s swimming and diving team cap off an undefeated season

Following a dominant 248–42 victory on Senior Day on Jan. 21 over Alfred University, the Ithaca College women’s swimming and diving program finished off the regular season by winning its last dual meet of the season Jan. 28 over Union College, 238–52. The win secured a 10–0 record and an undefeated season for the Bombers for the first time since the 2019–20 season.

Head coach Kevin Markwardt said he is thrilled with the season that the team has had so far and that they are powering through adversity throughout the season.

“They’ve had a great season to this point,” Markwardt said. “We went undefeated and for this group that’s a huge accomplishment. We’ve had some issues with nagging injuries this year but the athletes have worked through it and I’m really happy with our performance so far.”

Markwardt said the success of this season has come from the countless displays of hard work at practice every day, despite a long season spanning from October to March.

“I would just say consistency,” Markwardt said. “It’s a long season and it’s really tough. It can get pretty overwhelming and we had our struggles, but the consistency of the athletes willing to do what we’re asking them to do, that’s gotten them to the success we’ve had.”

Senior diver Karalyn Pawcio said everyone is an important part of the team’s success and that sticking to the basics will be crucial down the stretch. Pawcio swept the 1- and 3-meter boards at a dual meet against Union College on Jan. 28 and took the top spot in the 3-meter at the Geneca Diving Invitational on Feb. 4.

“Everyone plays a big role in the comradery of the team and to help have a common goal as one,” Pawcio said. “Now we’re honing in on the quality aspect, not the numbers and making this precise.”

A five-time Liberty League Diver of the Week and Fall 2022 Athlete of the Month selection for November, Pawcio said the team needs to stay focused and believe in each other in order to win another Liberty League Championship.

“We need to keep trusting our bodies and our coaches, as well as working together as a team,” Pawcio said. “Remember why and that you’ve put in the work, trusting the process.”

Senior Jane Pfeufer, a freestyle, backstroke and butterfly swimmer, said all of the hard work in practice has propelled the team to new heights this season.

“The team’s performance has been amazing and we’ve pushed through a lot,” Pfeufer said. “Pushing ourselves in a lot of hard practices, that’s one huge reason why we’ve won every meet this season.”

Pfeufer said having the team be this close is key to the success of the program and that it adds to the fun of each competition.

“We have a lot of team bonding during the season,” Pfeufer said. “We’re all close in and out of the pool and that makes it even more exciting when we’re on deck cheering for the team, feeling so proud.”

Going into the season, one of the top recruits for the team was first-year student freestyle, backstroke and butterfly swimmer Sonia Mlakar. Mlakar has proven to be a consistent scorer for the team and Markwardt said he is impressed with her performance this season, fighting through injuries and illness to help the team win.

“Sonia has done a great job for us this season,” Markwardt said. “She set three school records this season as a first-year [student] and we expected a lot out of her as one of our top recruits. She had a rough go on the training trip and got sick in the fall but she’s bounced back and we’ve seen some really solid swims out of her.”

Markwardt said the senior class has provided a much-needed boost to the team’s performance this season and that they are reliable when called upon.

“[Senior butterfly and freestyle swimmer] Emily Vandersleen has been our rock to build our meet lineup around,” Markwardt said. “She’s done a great job all year and we’ve always been able to count on her. The senior divers too, Karalyn Pawcio has gotten better every year, Abby Marraccino has been really consistent for us too. [Senior backstroke and individual medley swimmer] Katie Champagne, Jane Pfeufer, they’re the kind of athletes that are helping us reach the level of success we have achieved.”

With the Liberty League Championship quickly approaching — from Feb. 15 to 18 — Markwardt said the team has to stay on top of their health as well as put an emphasis on recovery and keeping up the routine of the preparation necessary to succeed.

“Staying healthy is our biggest goal, as that’s one thing as a coach you’re scared to death of,” Markwardt said. “Most of the work has been done, so it’s just a matter of trying to stay healthy, eating well [and] getting in a good place mentally, and I’m very confident in their ability to compete. When we get to that championship meet, they’re going to be successful. We just have to make sure they are healthy, rested and ready to go.”

Going into what could be her final competition at the Liberty League Championship, Pfeufer said she is most excited to push her teammates towards success and that that is where she achieves her personal success from.

“I’m looking forward to enjoying what’s happening on the pool deck and watching my teammates succeed,” Pfeufer said. “That is what motivates me the most to succeed personally.”