Senior diver Jared Cooper-Vespa defended his title in the 3-meter dive while also claiming second place in the 1-meter dive. (COURTESY GUHOYAS)
Senior diver Jared Cooper-Vespa defended his title in the 3-meter dive while also claiming second place in the 1-meter dive. (COURTESY GUHOYAS)

In its biggest team competition of the season, the Georgetown swimming and diving team claimed second place in both the men’s and women’s side at the Big East Championship this past week at Seton Hall University.

The women’s team earned 685 points to Villanova’s 1,017 points, which put it in silver-medal position for the fourth straight year. It was also the fourth consecutive year the men’s team came in second, racking up 677.5 points to finish behind Seton Hall’s 872.5-point championship mark.

“We talked all year about process and not results,” first-year Georgetown Head Coach Jack Leavitt said. “We knew that if we took care of the little things in the pool and the weight room from September to February that the results would handle themselves.”

Georgetown’s success on the diving side helped formulate its second-place finish for both sides.

Freshman Margaret Barnhorst took first in women’s 3-meter diving with a score of 527.75 and second in women’s 1-meter diving with a 513.80, earning her the title of Most Outstanding Women’s Diver. Fellow freshman Elizabeth Miller finished second in the 3-meter diving and placed third in the 1-meter.

“They were both great competitions, and I knew I just had to do my dives the way that I knew how to do them and the way I had been practicing them all season, and then I ended up having a good finals meet, and I ended up winning the 3-meter,” Barnhorst said.

The Hoyas’ diving success was reciprocated on the men’s side. Senior Jared Cooper-Vespa won the 3-meter dive for the second year in a row with a 584.55, and sophomore Ryan Blom came in second. Cooper-Vespa spoke of the expectations to defend his title.

“Yeah, it was good. It was a little stressful definitely because there’s an added pressure,” Cooper-Vespa said. “I had a lot of adrenaline, and I was able to channel that adrenaline to perform to the best of my ability.”

In the 1-meter diving final, Cooper-Vespa and Blom again finished first and second, as Blom defended his Big East title with a 508.35 score and Cooper-Vespa finished second with a score of 501.40.  At the conclusion of the meet, Cooper-Vespa won the title of Most Outstanding Men’s Diver.

“This has been our best team probably in program history, at least from a diving perspective,” Cooper-Vespa said. “We just have a kind of swagger in practice on the pool deck that we just bring, and it just helps us train really well.”

In his seventh season with Georgetown, Head Diving Coach Michael Tober won Men’s Diving Coach of the Year and shared the award for Women’s Diving Coach of the Year with Diving Coach Todd Michael of Villanova.

“That is just a testament to what Mike does with them day in and day out. He’s a great coach; he gets the absolute best out of the divers,” Leavitt said.

The relay events kicked off on the first day of the championships, with both the men’s and women’s 800-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley teams competing.

The women’s 200-yard medley team, composed of senior Katie Duncalf, junior Molly Fitzpatrick, senior Molly Gaynor and freshman Morgan Conley, finished third behind Villanova and Xavier with a time of 1:41.83.

Freshman Terry Johnson, junior Chandler Hinson, junior Daniel Ross and sophomore Jacob Kohlhoff led the men’s 800-freestyle relay team to a third-place finish, touching the wall at 6:40.58.

The Blue and Gray accumulated more individual medals over the second day of competition, with second and third-place finishes in the women’s 200-yard individual medley. Sophomore Laine Morgan earned silver with a 2:02.78, and Fitzpatrick finished third with a 2:03.15.

Morgan and Fitzpatrick continued their winning ways the next days, with Fitzpatrick rallying to victory in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:01.27. Morgan added a third-place finish with a 54:90 time in the 100-yard butterfly.

Capping off a long competition, Fitzpatrick managed to defend her gold in the women’s 200-yard breaststroke, claiming the medal for the second-straight year with a time of 2:11.16 in the final — more than three seconds faster than the second-place finisher.

“There is definitely an aspect that feels good to have all the months of grueling practices pay off and feel that you swam to your potential,” Fitzpatrick said. “Much more importantly though, the entire team trained incredibly hard this year, so I was grateful that I could go out there, show the Big East the work we’ve been putting in and get a win for Georgetown.”

Still chasing the Big East Championship, next season’s senior class will begin the season with the motivation to reach the next step on the podium, and Leavitt is ready to lead them there.

“The great thing after a meet like this is we did a lot of things well, and we swam great. However, there is still a lot more to do,” Leavitt said. “Our best is still out there.”

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