Panthers swim past local teams on Senior Day


The Panthers dominated in the pool over the weekend, winning all four diving events and 31 of 32 swimming events. Anna Bongardino | Staff Photographer

By Kait French | For The Pitt News

In a dominating effort, Pitt’s swimming and diving teams won all but one event over the weekend as the Panthers hosted the annual Western Pennsylvania Invitational meet at Trees Pool. Swimmers from nearby programs including Duquesne University, Clarion University, California University and Carnegie Mellon University all dove in against Pitt Friday and Saturday afternoons.

In a rare loss, senior diver Dominic Giordano came in second place behind first-year teammate Joe Ference in the three-meter competition Friday with a score of 320.85. Giordano was not able to compete in the one-meter Friday afternoon due to illness.

“I was kind of surprised [I was able to beat Dom],” Ference said. “I guess all the practice pays off in the end.”

Junior diver Meme Sharp continued her tenacious season, winning the one-meter with a score of 310.75 and the three-meter with a 310.70.

Anyone can mess up and anyone can have an amazing meet so I just take what I can get and I am happy whenever it comes out successfully,” Sharp said.

To plan for the ACC Championship, Sharp said she will be, “Diving, diving, diving, lots of diving,” in an effort to replicate last year’s success at the conference tournament, where she walked away from the 2016 competition as champion in the three-meter.

After the conclusion of the weekend’s diving action Friday, head diving coach Julian Krug expressed pleasure with regard to his divers’ performance.

“Today we did a decent enough job. I’m pretty pleased with our overall effort,” Krug said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

Saturday’s results were similarly positive for the Panthers, with Pitt swimmers winning in almost every event. Unlike most meets that take place against top-flight programs within the ACC, the invitational is exclusively against smaller regional programs. The correspondingly lower levels of pressure allowed the Panthers to experiment more than usual with their lineup.

“We’ve been racing every weekend this month so it was good to swim secondary events and have our swimmers get away from their main events a little bit,” Pitt head coach John Hargis said.

One swimmer entered in atypical events was Eben Vorster, a midseason addition from Bloemfontein, South Africa.

“Two of the events were not my main events, it was just like an switcharoo of events and stuff. Today, I swam the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle, which I don’t usually do. I usually swim the 200 fly or the 200 IM,” Vorster said. “Now that I know my routine, everything has been going better and I love it.”

At halftime, the swimming and diving teams honored the seniors who were swimming in their last home meet.

“It’s just catching up to me right now that it’s all over,” senior Kinga Cichowska said. “Obviously during the meet you are focused on the meet and trying to get things going.”

The seniors climbed up to the 10-meter platform to cap off their career at Trees Pool with a new tradition. Prior to jumping, departing team members sang the alma mater one final time.

“It was my first time jumping from 10 meters,” Cichowska said. “I asked Dom about Diving 101 and how to do it.”

Despite extreme reticence from some of the team members, all of the Pitt seniors made the plunge and dove off the platform. Fittingly, the final person to make the jump was Giordano, whose running double backflip elicited a positively loud response from the fans.

After the meet, Hargis kept his eyes to the future and ACC Championships.

“We know where we need to be now. We have two weeks to get the women ready and about four weeks to get the men ready, so it will be their vacation period,” Hargis said.

The Panthers’ next meet is ACC Championships in Atlanta, Georgia. The women’s swim team and the men’s and women’s diving teams will compete Feb. 13-16, and the men’s swim team will swim Feb. 27 to March 2.

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