The rafters shook with nervous excitement on Saturday, with a packed house holding their breath. Both the men’s and women’s teams were holding onto close leads, in desperate need of relay wins in order to put away a non conference powerhouse in Stevens Institute of Technology. But as the tension increased, the Bears seemed unfazed. A steadiness could be seen behind the blocks, a confidence uncommon in moments of such adversity. With the stakes high, the Bears pulled out two major victories, taking down the Ducks at home to improve to 7-3 and 6-4 respectively. “You can’t teach heart” exclaimed Jake Hennagan ’25, “It was a great team win.” It was a moment that culminated weeks of training and hard work for this team, as well as the last home meet for the team’s eight seniors, a true spectacle of emotion. What seemed like just two wins, meant so much more.
There could be many words used to describe this senior class of swimmers: intelligent, dedicated, and personable. But to put it simply, I think one word describes this class perfectly: perseverant. The group encountered a serious challenge coming in, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic throughout their freshman year. Being unable to compete, the coaches put together “stroke clinics” instead, working on technique and improving culture rather than heavy training. “When it was time to ramp up again, we had a closer, tighter team who was swimming technically better” exclaimed Coach Feinberg, stating that the “hard work and patience paid off”. The results showed in the pool during the 2021 season as well, with multiple finalists in their respective events during a season Feinberg described as “what may have been the best results I’ve ever seen in a conference meet.” Success would continue for two more years, as both teams managed to make history due to large contributions from the senior class. Multiple seniors have contributed top-ten times in Ursinus history, alongside a plethora of achievements outside of the pool. To me, this class’s leadership has been a guiding force throughout the team’s success this season. The leadership they show on a daily basis, whether it’s motivation through a workout or a passionate speech mid-meet, represent an example for all involved in the program. Their ability to “make a commitment and help lead a culture we can be proud of,” according to Coach Feinberg, has created an opportunity for success for the entire team.
With just over three weeks left until conference championships, both teams continue to work steadfastly in preparation. The group took their yearly trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida 3 weeks ago, training twice a day in order to get in maximum shape for the upcoming stretch. Feinberg pointed to the team being “at the next level of their training physically” after this trip, but more importantly becoming “closer as a family,” a key aspect of any team gearing up for a championship meet. Such development has been important for a team that is the youngest Ursinus has had in years, with over a quarter of the roster being first-year student-athletes. However, the coach referred to the “fun energy” and “balanced environment” which the underclassmen have created, setting the team up for years to come. Through the leadership and preparation they’ve gone through over the past months, this group feels prepared for their first ever conference championships, with their success vital to the team’s. The Bears are feeling dangerous, at the best possible time.