Georgetown’s swimming and diving team returns to McCarthy Pool on Saturday to play host to Washington, D.C. rival Howard. The Hoyas have been hard at work looking to build off of the solid performance they showed at the Bucknell Invitational on the weekend of Nov. 22-24. During the meet, the men placed fourth out of the nine competing teams with a final score of 761, and the women finished in fourth place out of 10 teams, scoring 871 points.

Several Hoyas contributed to the men’s strong showing at Bucknell. Freshman Jared Vespa-Cooperstarted off the meet with a sixth-place finish in the 1-meter diving competition with 240.70 points. The 400-yard freestyle relay team, comprised of freshmen Will Leach and David Chung, sophomore Michael Smigelski and senior Matthew Mandel, concluded the meet for the Hoyas by placing second.

On the women’s side, sophomore Erica Fabbri placed second in the 100-yard freestyle in 51.83 seconds, breaking the school record, which was previously held by Amy Ballanfant. Junior Jillian Carter placed fourth in the 200-yard butterfly and freshman Molly Gaynor followed in sixth, which qualified both for the finals in the event.

Head Coach Jamie Holder felt that his team’s performance was a positive way to conclude the first half of the season.

“I was really happy with our performances [at Bucknell],” Holder said. “We’ve got a good idea of where we need to put our best people, and we’re getting through some injuries, and we’ll continue to do that. But I’m excited for where we are and what we can do [during the rest of] this year.”

The teams will return to McCarthy Pool for their final home meet of the semester on Saturday against Howard. Georgetown faced Howard last season, when both the men and women defeated the Bison.

The Bison will be entering the meet this weekend after a tough start to the season. The team is in a rebuilding season after losing its best swimmers to graduation. Recently, Howard suffered sizeable losses to Loyola Maryland (men 121-79, women 122-58) Nov. 9 and American University (men 111-79, women 121-57) Oct. 18.

If the beginning of Howard’s season was tough, then their most recent competition was the most challenging by far. During the Patriot Invitational, held at George Mason University Nov. 21-23, both Bison teams stumbled to last-place finishes. The men placed last out of the eight competing teams, earning a total of 38 points, and the women placed last out of nine, earning 18 points.

Howard is not at the same level of competition that Georgetown has grown accustomed to facing, but the Hoyas do not disregard them, either. The meet will be a chance for the Hoyas to score points and keep improving as the season goes on.

“They’re not really as competitive as some of the teams that we’ve swam [against] this year … [but] it’s a good opportunity for us to race,” Holder said. “They’re definitely in development, but last year they had some really good swimmers. … They’re nobody to take lightly.”

Despite the dismal record, the Bison have had strong performances. On Oct. 19, the women’s team fell to North Carolina A&T by only six points. The women recorded their first relay victories in their second meet of the season and have continued to earn first-place finishes in other events.

Although Howard is the most immediate competition that Georgetown will face as the season continues, Holder has his sights set on longer-term goals.

“Right now we’re just trying to get everybody training back pretty hard and back to work,” Holder said. “With the holiday and everything, people were away, and it was time to take a break. But it’s back to hard work now pretty much until the championships.”

Holder is confident that his swimmers will continue to show the same cohesiveness that has given them notable success in the past few meets.

“It’s really been a good team effort. … People that we’ve counted on before continue to perform,” Holder said.

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