After successfully competing for four years as part of the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association, UMBC men’s swimming and diving returned to the America East for the 2017-18 season with a hunger for victory. Their vision became a reality when the Retrievers emerged with the America East championship trophy after four days of grueling competition in Worcester, Massachusetts. With a final score of 1,113 points, UMBC blew second-place team Binghamton out of the water by nearly 300 points.
UMBC’s women’s team also made huge strides, bridging a nearly 100-point gap after the first day of competition. Their tenacity paid off, landing them in second place by the end of the meet, only 4.5 points behind New Hampshire.
Over the course of the championship, both teams cemented their legacy by breaking multiple UMBC and America East records. Tunisian national champion Haythem Abdelkhalek ‘19, computer science, bested the former men’s 1650 record of 15:31.99 (set by a Retriever in 2006) by staggering 10 seconds, setting a new record of 15:21.41. Emily Vance ‘20, health administration and policy, set a new UMBC women’s 100 back record of 54.50, while also swimming the 200 back in 1:57.61, beating her own previous UMBC record, as well as the America East’s record set in 2011.
Danish national champion Alexander Gliese ‘19, mechanical engineering, brought home gold and, in the process, set a new men’s 200 back record with a time of 1:45.27. With a solid showing throughout the weekend, Luis Galvan ‘20, health administration and policy and financial economics, set new America East records in both the 100 and 200 breast. Philip Adejumo ‘18, biochemistry and molecular biology, finished his career with a UMBC team record in the 100 fly, clocking a 47.43 to eclipse a record from 2014. The Retrievers posted the only relay record broken during the weekend when the team of Gliese, Jared Vance ‘18, business technology administration, Adejumo and Rattsev, posted a 1:31.11 to break the 2011 Boston University record in the 200 medley relay.
The accolades continued as Natalija Marin ‘21, mechanical engineering, and Kai Wisner ‘21, mechanical engineering, received Most Outstanding Rookie awards. Ilia Rattsev ‘20, bioinformatics and computational biology, was named Male Most Outstanding Swimmer and Nikola Trajkovic ‘18, financial economics, was awarded the Dave Alexander Coaches Award for accumulating the most points in the championships as a senior.
In additional to purely athletic achievements, Allison Atkinson ‘18, biological sciences, and Connor Ganley ‘18, chemical engineering, were recognized as having the highest GPAs among competing student-athletes and were named the America East Elite 18 recipients. Coach Chad Cradock ’97, psychology, and his staff were named the men’s and women’s Coaching Staff of the Year.
“I want to thank our coaching staff for doing such a great job. To be voted coaching staff of the year for both men and women is a such a compliment and a product of their dedication to our program,” Cradock said.
Coming off their record-breaking showing at America East, UMBC men’s and women’s swimming and diving traveled to Rutgers University for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships on February 15, 2018. Gliese again earned first in both the 100 and 200 men’s back, breaking the pool record in the 200 backstroke, and Vance reset her own school record in the women’s 100 back.
For more UMBC Swimming and Diving news, see UMBC Athletics.
Image: UMBC’s men’s swimming and diving team celebrate a first place win at America East Championships; photo by Greg Cooper. Inset: UMBC men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams; photo by Gail Burton.