The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Emotions run high as Storm sweeps

The smell of chlorinated water will never again drift throughthe passageways of Alumni Hall. Gone are the goggles, sandals andSpeedos that had been such a common sight there for nearly 39years. No splashes will be heard in the underground hallways.Backstrokes and freestyles are now a thing of the past.

For the last time ever, the St. John’s swimming teams competedat home this past Saturday afternoon in front of a standing roomonly crowd.

They poured out their emotions during a victorious meet againstStony Brook University, showing tremendous poise and resilience oneyear after learning the program would be permanently disbanded.

“I told my swimmers they had a great opportunity to show the NewYork area, show Stony Brook, show all the alumni and show theparents what a real class act they are as a team, as people and asswimmers,” said St. John’s head coach John Skudin, the third andfinal swimming coach in St. John’s history. “I think they showedthat today.”

Before the meet began, Skudin introduced his team to the fansfor the last time ever. He choked his way through a brief, yetpoignant speech thanking everyone who signed unsuccessful onlinepetitions to retain the team.

“After the speech he gave in the beginning, it was emotionallyhard to go in to start the (400-medley) relay,” graduate studentLaura Nuudi commented, referring to Skudin’s touching remarks tothe audience. “The eyes were crying and others were filling withthe tears, so it was really hard.”

After an 18-month review that started in 1995, the St. John’sadministration decided to cut men’s and women’s swimming, leavingtwo full-time coaches and 32 student-athletes behind.

The sport joined football and men’s track as the University’sfour casualties. They now make way for men’s lacrosse, which willbegin in the 2004-2005 season as the swimming pool will betransformed into a weight-training center.

The Red Storm was determined to make a statement against theSeawolves, and they did so in convincing fashion.

With supporters cheering them on, St. John’s swept Stony Brookto up their record to 4-0 in both the men’s and women’s categories.The Red Storm won 19 of 22 events as the team came together todefeat their Long Island rivals.

“We knew coming in that we were a little stronger than them, andwe were confident that we could win today,” said Skudin, who hasheaded the program for the past 14 years. “We came out a little bitmore inspired. We had a little bit more to prove today than StonyBrook.”

Senior Beth Malinowski was one of the many stars for St. John’s,winning the 1000 (10:40.39), 200 (2:16.59) and 500 frees(5:12.04).

Both Nuudi, with her win in the 200 backstroke (2:07.20) and AdiSegal, first in the 200-yard butterfly (2:07.40), qualified for theBig East championships. Nuudi was also a member of the 400-medleyrelay team that, with the help of Anette Melissa Hoye, Gosia Rodzikand Caitlin Ranney, won their competition.

Junior Christine Myers almost broke the record in the 400 IM,finishing at 4:24.50. She came within two-tenths of a second of theprevious best mark.

The men had their fair share of victories too, starting off withsophomore Pawel Sokolowski’s wins in the 50 (20.74) and 100 (44.67)frees. Senior Michal Szapiel captured the 500 (5:02.42) and 1000(9:40.03) frees, while sophomore Yuriy Bugayev won first-placehandily in both the 400 IM (4:13.86) and 200 backstroke(1:57.14).

“It was definitely the most emotional meet for us,” added seniorArek Znachowski.

Malinowski, who classified the Stony Brook meet as “the hardestI’ve worked in all four years,” said the saddest element of thesports reformulation was that the record-holders board would neveragain be seen by swimmers or fans of the program.

“All of our hard work that we put into getting our names upthere, that’s going to come down,” she explained.

When asked if the administration might let her take thehumongous board home, she smirked. “I don’t think they’re going tolet us do that,” she said.

As if the day needed to get any better, the competition had abeautiful ending. As both teams huddled around their respectivecoaches, the Seawolves pointed across the pool to the home benchand shouted, “Go St. John’s Swimming!”

Skudin called it “an unbelievable job of sportsmanship. I’venever seen anything like that before,” he said.

Although Skudin and Malinowski seemed grateful that theuniversity is allowing the swimmers to keep their athleticscholarships, there were clearly some hard feelings.

After the meet, Skudin addressed current and former swimmers ata reception held in Marillac Terrace sponsored by the athleticadministration.

Swimmers of all ages attended, as well as members of the firstever men’s team.

The Red Storm still have one more meet, which will take placethis Friday when they take on Villanova in Pennsylvania, beforeseeing their final action at the conference championships.

But for many, last Saturday was what they will remembermost.

POOL PARTY:

Women’s 1000-Yard Freestyle
1. Malinowski, Elizabeth, SJU
2. Molinaro, Lisa, SJU

Men’s 1000-Yard Freestyle
1. Szapiel, Michal, SJU
2. Filipowicz, Marcin, SJU

Women’s 400 IM
1. Myers, Christine, SJU
2. Test, Amanda, SJU

Men’s 400 IM
1. Bugayev, Yuriy, SJU

Women’s 200-Yard Backstroke
1. Nuudi, Laura, SJU
2. Rodzik, Gosia, SJU
3. Ziolkowski, Maya, SJU

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