Senior Class Has Led Turnaround for Rhody Swim Program

Senior Class Has Led Turnaround for Rhody Swim Program

Rhode Island swimming and diving's four senior captains have led their teammates through a historic season. The 2018-19 Rams became the winningest team in program history after they secured a decisive 175-125 victory at Vermont on Saturday, Jan. 19. Rhody is now 8-2, 1-1 A-10 heading into the final stretch of its season. 

For Eliza Anderson, Caitlyn Blake, Grace Kneller and Nicole Petta, Sunday afternoon's meet against Central Connecticut will be their last at the Tootell Aquatic Center. As a signal that the end of their four-year tenure on the team is near, the meet will be very bittersweet.

"As a class, we have talked a lot about moving the program forward," Kneller said. "We wanted to raise the program up and now, with the season that we've had, it makes this year that much more special." 

Head coach Mick Westkott, who is in his 41st season with the Rams, had nothing but praise for the senior class, regarding their impact both in and outside of the pool.

"They're awesome," Westkott said. "They are such strong leaders, all with a different flair that makes the overall group so much better. And that is something I've known about them for the past few years."

The influence that this class has had on this year's team is undeniable and Westkott's testament to their leadership only furthers that point. The seniors, however, emphasize the importance of the strength that they have drawn from their teammates.

"It's hard to think of a specific reason why this year has been so successful," Anderson said. "But I know that when I am on the block and I look over at the side of the pool and see the support of my teammates… it fires me up. I swim for them." 

The chemistry that the senior class has is indisputable. Between the practices, the bus trips and the rare time spent away from the pool deck, the four of them have become accustomed to operating in synchronicity. That being said, they still have a good laugh over learning new things about each other. When Blake mentioned that her pre-meet ritual has always included eating the same brand of fruit snacks, Anderson laughed and said, "I have been swimming with you for four years and I literally had no idea that you did that." 

Though this weekend will be the quartet's last time racing at the Tootell Aquatic Center, the seniors will still have their final race as Rams at the 2019 Atlantic 10 Championship at the end of February. Rhode Island will look to send off its seniors and cap off a record-setting season. 

"In the end, you won't remember your times from your events," Petta said. "You'll remember the people."