Last season, the Georgetown swimming and diving teams ended on a strong note, working the entire season to qualify for several spots in the Big East championship this past February.

Every season, Head Coach Steve Cartwright has two goals in mind for his team.

“Get more qualifiers to the Big East Championship,” he says. “And get those swimmers to finish higher ever year.”

Although they achieved this goal, the Hoyas have come back this year with a vengeance, not simply looking to replicate last year’s results, but to make an even bigger splash in the Big East.

Georgetown started off the year with its best-ever finish at its opening meet, the Potomac Relays. The Hoyas returned to the meet for the first time since 2007, as they missed last year’s matchup because of a campus-wide norovirus outbreak.

The team was simply ready to start the season, with the freshmen getting their first taste of collegiate swimming. Both the men’s and women’s teams had impressive showings, placing second out of seven schools – a program best – with the men’s 3×100 butterfly team making a victory statement to open the season.

The unit consisted of highly-touted sophomores Victor Lopez-Cantera and Trevor Kosmo, as well as senior Wes Going.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 17, the Hoyas went into a dual meet, facing local Virginia opponents, James Madison and VMI. Though the women fell to JMU by a score of 187.5-112.5, the men defeated VMI handily, 223-49.

The women’s team fought hard and had many promising finishes, as freshman Samantha Kietlinski, in just her second collegiate meet, won the 100 and 200 meter freestyle, took second place in the individual medley and earned three top-10 Georgetown finishes. The women also took home the 100 and 200 fly, courtesy of Laura Alito and Kristen Pratt, respectively.

On the men’s side, sophomore Greg Germain won both the 100 and 200 backstroke. Overall, the Hoyas came away with seven runner-up finishes, splitting their first dual meet of the season.

The most recent early-season test for the Hoyas came on Oct. 24, with a dual meet against cross-town rival George Washington. For this stage of the season, Cartwright admitted that the team, especially the first-year students, is fairly tired. The start of the season, coupled with the stress of midterms and all other aspects of a typical student-athlete’s life, could have resulted in a letdown. Georgetown swam impressively, however, as the Hoyas earned a split in their matchup, with the women coming out victorious in their meet.

Freshmen Paul Quincy and Michelle Pliskin turned in victories in the 100 freestyle. Pliskin’s victory marked one of 11 victories for the women on the day, as they conceded only three events to the Colonials.

Cartwright was most impressed with the team’s resiliency, being able to come back after a tough week of training and record even faster times than in its two initial meets. More importantly, the Hoyas qualified 14 more swimmers for the Big East Championship, a key objective for Cartwright and his team.

Looking ahead, this year’s team brings back a great deal of talent, most notably last season’s MVPs, Lopez-Cantera and junior diver Caitlin Karniski. Pratt and Germain headlined last year’s freshman class, earning the team’s Outstanding Freshmen of the Year award.

The Class of 2013 boasts many new and highly-touted prospects, one of the most exciting and talented in Georgetown’s history. The team has already seen a great deal of success from one of these freshmen, Samantha Kietlinski, with notable contributions from many others.

Other freshmen include two of the Hoyas’ most versatile swimmers in Kenneth Ryan and Colleen McClintock. From experience, Cartwright believes these freshmen have barely scratched the surface in terms of their full potential, as the college adjustment period takes quite a bit of time, especially during the first semester, as they’re trying to perform at the highest athletic and academic levels.

Consequently, look for even bigger things from these new members and even better things from the record-setting Hoyas of the past couple of years, throughout the season – especially when they travel to this year’s Big East conference championships in Pittsburgh.

Tomorrow, the Hoyas head to Baltimore to face three teams – Lafayette, Lehigh and Seton Hall – in their first quad meet of the season. This meet is very intriguing because of the intra-conference twist, as Georgetown and Seton Hall are historical Big East rivals.

Tomorrow also marks the Hoyas’ final meet until the Patriot Invitational in late November, considered by many to be a measuring stick for the team’s midseason progress. Cartwright wants to pick up some wins on both sides, but he is also concerned with the team’s psyche following the meet, with the next meet so far in the future.

“We’re looking for solid swims right now, as we are about three weeks out from the Invitational, a big mid-season test,” he said. “We always go up to this meet every year and look to do well and get plenty of wins, but there’s also added motivation this time to pull out a Big East win. The way we’re swimming right now, with our energy and motivation, it’s going to be a fun meet to watch.” “

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