It took 14 years to accomplish and almost did not happen.
But John Skudin, the St. John’s swimming head coach, won his100th meet in one of his last chances to do so, an impressive132-72 victory for the men’s squad at Villanova last Fridaynight.
It was the second to last regular-season meet in the prestigious39-year history of St. John’s swimming.
“It was like ‘make it or not,’ and making 100 is a lot,”remembered Skudin, noting that there are usually only eight or ninemeets each season.
The Red Storm was led by sophomores Pawel Sokolowski and YuriyBugayev and senior Michal Szapiel, who each won two events.
Sokolowski, whom Skudin praised as “one of the premier sprintersin the East,” won the 50 (21.35) and 100 (46.95) frees whileBugayev prevailed in the 200 IM (1:59) and 100 breaststroke(58.63).
Szapiel finished first in the 200 (1:40.53) and 1000 (9:51.15)frees.
Juniors Marcin Filipowicz and Wojciech Sikora, both Polishnatives, contributed with huge wins.
Filipowicz drew the elusive swimming triple-crown withfirst-place finishes in the 200, 500 and 1000 frees.
Sikora, meanwhile, prevailed in the 100 butterfly. Collectively,the men captured 10 out of 11 total events during the meet.
The SJU women were not as lucky, losing to the Wildcats 125-77,but their meet featured many individual accomplishments.
Freshman Anette Melissa Hoye stood out, winning the 100breaststroke (1:08.21), and Gosia Rodzik broke her own St. John’svarsity record in the 100 butterfly (58.30).
As a team, the Red Storm women showed serious spunk by placingfirst in the 200 freestyle and 200-medley relay, but they were justoutmatched versus Villanova.
“We were going against a really good team,” said Skudin, “and tobeat them in any relay goes to show how improved the [St. John’s]women are.”
St. John’s will return to the pools on Feb. 14 at theall-important Rutgers Invitational held in Piscataway, N.J.
It is there that Skudin is hoping for the swimmers who have notyet done so to make their respective Big East cuts.
“We are looking obviously for everybody,” he said, mentioningAndrew Cummins, Danilo Krvavac, Bernardas Velikonis, JennieBrunette, Jennifer Nucci and Darinka Savcic among those “on thebubble.”
After the Invitational, the team heads to the Big EastChampionships to try and put an exclamation point on the program’sfinal meet in St. John’s history.
“We’re depleted because of graduation and not being able torecruit [since the swimming program will be disbanded],” Skudinsadly mentioned.
Still, his team will fight to the end.
“You can’t control anyone else, you can’t put in a defense.We’re going in there with the same goal, for everyone to have theirpersonal-best high.”
With the sport nearing its end at St. John’s, Skudin continuallystruggles to concentrate on his short-term goals.
“I try to keep focused, because when I do drift into thinkingthis is the end, I kinda get bummed out,” he said. “It’s my job tokeep the team focused. I guess we’ll have all the time in the worldto bum out about it after.”