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The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Championship experience readies Gaels for New Year

Hannah+Forbes+was+one+of+six+Gaels+to+score+in+the+1650+free.
Photo courtesy of IonaGaels.com
Hannah Forbes was one of six Gaels to score in the 1650 free.

The Iona University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams competed in the 2023 ECAC Winter Championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Complex in East Meadow, N.Y., from Dec. 1-3 to finish off 2023.  

On day one of the ECAC Championships, 14 women’s and 12 men’s teams recorded top-seven finishes. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) was the day’s leader on the men’s side, while the defending champion Columbia University paced the women.  

Senior Michael Faughnan showed out in the men’s 500-yard free, achieving an excellent time of 4:21.29. Faughnan’s time is a new Iona record and qualified for the NCAA Championship B. Sophomore Matthew Woyksnar was the other Gael to reach the top-10, having put up a 4:39.81 mark. Andrew Diano, Robert Heim and James Cash rounded out the competitors.  

Newcomers Anabel Huffstutler and Kate Kennedy landed in the top 20 for the women, with times of 5:10.56 and 5:09.43.  

Faughnan once again dominated on the second day, posting a 1:35.28 time (which was only .01 over his MAAC Championship record) in the first 15 meters. His efforts kept Iona positioned in the fourth place spot. 

Huffstutler, Megan Josephs, Ela Goucher and Isabella Nicholson combined their times to produce a 7:45.81 line in the 800-yard freestyle, finishing third. Meanwhile, junior Ashley Benkert ended up in sixth in the 100-yard butterfly, with sophomore Erin McKinney behind her in sixteenth. Freshman Kieran Egan finished second in the 100-back, while sophomore Dylan Riccio placed fourth in the one-meter springboard for the men.  

The Iona men ended up in fourth place for the third consecutive day and the women maintained their sixth place spot. 

Faughnan received his third gold medal of the tournament, winning the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:44.42, a meet record time. Egan was not far behind in third place, swimming in 1:47.16. 

NJIT won it all on the men’s end with 1,692 points, while Columbia capped things off with 1,876 points to lead the women.  

The Gaels’ swimming and diving teams were set to take part in the CSCAA 5k Open Water Championship on Dec. 17, but the event was canceled due to inclement weather.  

A five-day long intersession training trip was held from Jan. 10-15, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to prepare the program for its return to action at Fairfield University on Jan. 20.  

The Stags’ women’s team, who won the previous MAAC Championship, bested the Gaels with a 221-74 win. The Iona men dropped their match with a final score of 186-112.  

Nicholson was a bright spot for Iona with a first place finish in the 200-meter freestyle after posting a 2:10.21 time. Nicholson, Benkert and Josephs claimed silver medal efforts in three other races.  

Faughnan and Egan paced the men’s side, combining for five victories.  

Coach Nick Cavataro said that the time off in between meets may have hindered the Gaels’ ability to compete to their best ability on the day. 

“We definitely were fatigued and a bit rusty in spots today coming out of the racing layoff and heavy training trip in spots,” Cavataro said. “We have a pair of two home meets coming up and feel confident we will be better.” 

The two upcoming matches at the Hynes Center Pool will wrap up Iona’s regular season schedule and fall on Jan. 24 and 27, where the seniors on both the men’s and women’s team will be recognized.  

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Robert Hughes
Robert Hughes, Sports Editor

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