Backstrokers reigned supreme for the UR men’s and women’s swim teams in its home opener this past weekend.

Juniors Val Atwood and Kevin Howard led the ‘Jackets against University Athletic Association competition, taking first place in both the 100M and 200M backstroke against Case Western Reserve University and New York University.

Despite scattered strong finishes, the men as a whole stumbled against the competition. The men lost to Case Western, 177-212, and NYU, 166-223. The women, meanwhile, notched a victory over the Spartans, 243-144, but likewise fell to the Violets, losing 139.5-249.5.

Still, Atwood and Howard’s performances were not the only bright spots on Friday and Saturday for the Yellowjackets. The men saw strong finishes from a number of freshmen, including diver Eliot Lasher, whose 197.70 score on the 1-meter board was good enough for first place. Lasher also finished second in the 3-meter board, while fellow freshman Ian Kruper took third in the 50 freestyle.

The women, meanwhile, got strong performances out of a number of their veterans. Sophomore Emily Scott finished second in the 50 and 100 freestyles, while junior Shannon Moss finished third in the 100 backstroke. Fifth-year student Cheryl Blechman finished second on the 3-meter board. Freshman diver Sara Spielman also showed promise on the boards, placing third on the 3-meter and second on the 1-meter.
UR will return to Speegle Aquatics Center a couple more times this season, including in the beginning of December.

‘We love it when the Speegle is crowded for meets and there is lots of loud cheering for our swimmers ‘ divers,” head coach Pete Thompson said. ‘We hope to see a lot of students there for our Liberty League Championship meet the first weekend in December.”

Welcoming 17 new freshmen, the team has gained strong recruits to make this season the most successful yet.

UR’s schedule is no cupcake, either. Their next UAA matchup is in three weeks, when the Yellowjackets take on Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on Nov. 20-21. Combined with a tough conference schedule is a slew of dual meets that will test the ‘Jackets’ potential.

‘Overall, the outlook of the season is extremely positive,” Thompson said. ‘[Our goal for the season is] to be competitive our schedule is national caliber, to improve and to have some fun doing it!”

The Yellowjackets travel to Union College to take on the Dutchmen on Nov. 14. Last season, Union got the better of the ‘Jackets in close meets on both the men’s and women’s sides. This season, UR will be looking beyond just the upperclassmen to lead them in their first official away meet of the season.

‘Our leadership sets the tone for the team in terms of work ethic, attitude, responsibility, team unity and placing the welfare of the team above their individual needs,” Thompson said. ‘We do see leadership though, as everyone’s responsibility.”


Arjomandi is a member of the class of 2013.


Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.



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