The Pitt News

Swimming and diving splashes into new season

Dominic+Giordano+was+named+ACC+Diver+of+the+Week+for+the+second+consecutive+week+%7C+Jordan+Mondell%2C+Assistant+Visual+Editor
Dominic Giordano was named ACC Diver of the Week for the second consecutive week | Jordan Mondell, Assistant Visual Editor

Dominic Giordano was named ACC Diver of the Week for the second consecutive week | Jordan Mondell, Assistant Visual Editor

Dominic Giordano was named ACC Diver of the Week for the second consecutive week | Jordan Mondell, Assistant Visual Editor

By Ashwini Sivaganesh | Assistant Sports Editor

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After a spring and summer full of changes for Pitt’s swimming and diving program — from the addition of new head coach John Hargis to $3 million in renovations to Trees Hall — the Panthers are in the pool once again.

The men’s team — overall 2-2 and ACC 1-2 — and the women’s team — overall 3-1 and ACC 2-1 — started off the season in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, against Boston College and Georgia Tech before falling to Virginia on the road and then returning home last weekend to sweep the University of Buffalo.

While the men’s and women’s teams have 14 and 18 returning Panthers, respectively, both are almost doubling their roster with 11 and 13 promising new swimmers and divers, respectively.

Some of the most notable returnees for diving include senior Dominic Giordano and junior Meme Sharp. Both divers concluded their last season at the NCAA Championships, with Giordano securing a national title on the 3m with a score of 460.30 — Pitt’s first individual NCAA title by a swimmer or diver — and Sharp placing 13th in the same event with a score of 309.80.

Senior Kinga Cichowska also returned as a senior swimmer for Pitt after setting the school record for the 100m breaststroke last season in the ACC Championships with a time of 1:00.90.

The Panthers kicked off their season on Oct. 8 in Massachusetts to face ACC rivals Boston College and Georgia Tech.

Both teams defeated the host school, but the men’s team could not claim a victory against Georgia Tech. In total, the Panthers won 12 events from performance by swimmers redshirt senior Henrique Machado; junior Amanda Richey; first-year Valerie Daigneault and Cichowska, and divers senior Zach Lierley; first-year Joe Ference and Sharp.

“I was really pleased with how our freshmen women performed,” Hargis said in a press release after the first meet. “They were really strong and helped us in some crucial events. On the men’s side, Samy Helmbacher stood out as a freshman with lots of talent who could be a major factor for us this season and beyond.”

The Panthers made their way to Charlottesville, Virginia Oct. 21 to face highly reputable teams. Virginia’s women’s team is the nine-time defending ACC champion and its roster includes 2016 Summer Olympics gold and bronze medalist swimmer Leah Smith — a native of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Even though Giordano championed his debut events for the season in the 1m and 3m dives, — earning him ACC diver of the week — both teams returned home unsuccessful for their first meet of the season at home to take on Buffalo.

The women’s first-year additions proved to be an important asset in the pool at last Friday’s meet. With the help of the other returning swimmers and divers, the team annihilated Buffalo 190.5-109.5.
But the men’s team struggled to keep up, relying on its senior and junior swimmers and divers — including Giordano’s back-to-back ACC diver of the week performance — to give it an edge and claim a marginal 151-149 victory.

“We knew the men’s meet would be tough because Buffalo has a very good team,” Hargis said in a press release after the meet. “ Our swimming continues to get better every time we jump on the blocks, and that’s what we want to see. We had several swimmers with the best times of their careers tonight. That’s all you can ask for.”

The Pitt swimming and diving team will remain at home for its next meet against ACC foe Notre Dame on Friday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m.

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Swimming and diving splashes into new season