The University of Rhode Island swim and dive team looked to right the ship this weekend vs. University of Connecticut after falling for the first time all year to Providence College following a fiery 3-0 start.
The Rams would go on to host Uconn at the Tootell aquatic center Saturday, where they were on the wrong side of victory for the second time in just four days. Six personal best times from URI resulted in a competitive 162-133 loss.
Of the six personal best races vs. UConn, the most notable result was first-year Julianna Tyler’s record-breaking 200-fly time, which saw her finish nearly five seconds ahead of the field.
Tyler’s 2:01.41 finish was not only a personal best, but a program record, and a pool record for the 200-fly. Tyler’s time broke former Ram Caitlin Guccione’s program record, which has stood since February of 2018, and the pool record which was set a year ago by Vermont’s Hally Laney.
“Before her two-fly, I kind of jokingly leaned over to her… ‘Are we going to take that pool record down today?’” URI Head Coach Lilli Falconer Deering said. “She kind of laughed it off.”
Tyler recalled the record-breaking moment.
“I didn’t even know when I was swimming, you’re just kind of in your own race,” Tyler said, “It’s an incredible feeling…It’s cool, but you know, I’m just so happy for the team”.
This weekend’s meet gave Tyler five more reasons to be proud of her squad, in the form of five other new personal best times.
Fourth-year Hannah Benavides, second-year Ella Hacker, and second-year Sarah Koenig were among those who achieved new personal bests. Tyler also grabbed another personal best in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:06.38.
Benevides’ new personal records came in two wins, with a time of 1:03.67 in the 100 yard breaststroke and 2:18.30 in the 200-yard breaststroke.
Hacker was able to achieve a personal best in the 100-yard butterfly, grabbing third place with a time of 56.78 seconds.
Koenig rounded off the successful outing of personal achievements with a 59.84-second finish in the 100 yard backstroke.
Despite the outcome, Deering had plenty of bright spots to turn to as the team looks to get back on track, now entering the bulk of the season.
“Now we’re going up against some other teams that really challenge us more,” Deering said. “We can prepare even better for our championship meet”.
It’s the day-to-day challenges and demands of the sport that keep Deering and these Rams pushing for more, according to Deering.
Tyler can attest to how much her and this team embraces the daily grind.
“I mean for me personally, I’m just trying to keep my head down, keep pushing, keep putting in the work,” said Tyler. “I know the whole team is kind of like that too, everyones just trying to keep morale up, and we’re just pushing each other.”
It is not just their will to compete that keeps these Rams going, but their individual successes along the way that remind this team of their true potential, according to Deering.
This flurry of personal best races is a considerable silver lining for these Rams, although they dropped their second loss in a row, falling to 3-2.
“While we didn’t beat Uconn this time, I think, you know, this was probably one of the best meets that we’ve had as a program in a very long time,” Deering said. “All of our girls really rose to the occasion this weekend and swam really well.”
This proves true when reflecting on the individual successes of all of URI’s swimmers, and the competitive battle that took place this weekend, justifying coach Deering and Tyler’s confidence moving forward.
“Even though we lost, it was an amazing meet, everyone swam so well and just had each other’s backs,” Tyler said. “To see those best times, it shows that what we’re doing in the pool is paying off.”
It’s evident that this team will continue to carry this mindset into the coming weeks, and this tough loss vs Uconn could prove to be a motivating factor that ultimately leads the team towards a path of success, according to Deering.
“It really just gave them some more confidence knowing that the training and the hard work that we’ve been doing in the pool, and the early mornings, and the doubles and the hard lifts, those are paying off,” Deering said. “We can’t back down now, we have momentum and we want to keep rolling with it.”
URI swim and dive will look to roll with this momentum next week as they host the Harold Anderson Invitational, a three-day event spanning from Nov. 17-19.