Having competed in two meets so far, the women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams have gotten off to solid starts this season. In addition to performing well as a group, Bowdoin has had a number of notable accomplishments on an individual level. 

This weekend, Gabriel Siwady ’19 will be representing Honduras at the International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Swimming Championships in Windsor, Canada. The Polar Bears also swept NESCAC Performers of the Week last week as Sterling Dixon ’19 and Karl Sarier ’19 earned honors for their strong performances in the teams’ season opener against MIT and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Siwady made the Honduras National Team after placing first in events at a national level. Although he has competed for Honduras multiple times before—including at the Junior World Championships in 2013—this will be the first meet where he will represent his country at a senior level. 

The World Swimming Championships draw the top talent from more than 172 countries around the world, which is the most exciting aspect of the meet for Siwady.

“Just the experience of getting to swim with the best in the world and being there and having a good race—I know that whatever happens, it’s something that I won’t forget,” said Siwady.

Last weekend, the Polar Bears competed against Colby, Bates and the University of Maine-Orono (UMO) at the two-day Maine State Meet, hosted by Bowdoin. At the men’s meet, Bowdoin finished second overall with 814 points, behind Bates’ winning total of 1030 points. In a close race on the women’s side, Bowdoin took third place overall with 792.5 points, where Bates once again clinched first place with 976.5 points, followed by UMO followed with 873 points. 

Men’s captains Tim Long ’17 and Michael Given ’17 were very impressed with the team’s performance at the Maine State Meet. 

“It was really cool to see that our teammates were setting meet records, especially this early in the season,” said Given. “In regards to [Sarier’s] races, it’s a little scary to know that he’s only getting better.” 

In addition to echoing Given’s praise of the athletic performances, Long spoke highly of the team’s camaraderie. 

“We did an especially good job off the water cheering for each other,” he said. “There were always people behind the lanes, motivating each other, pushing each other on.”

Women’s captains Erin Houlihan ’17 and Isabel Schwartz ’17 were enthused with the results of the meet but are more excited about the team’s prospects after winter break. Since the team has only been in season since November 1, they have had little time to make significant progress, especially with increased academic pressure at the end of the semester. Over winter break, however, swimmers and divers use the hiatus from classes to practice, usually completing two pool sessions each day for over three weeks. 

“We definitely have a more flexible schedule approaching finals because most of our training happens over winter break,” said Houlihan. “Over break, our coach expects us to be focused 100 percent on swimming.”

Head Coach Brad Burnham agreed with Houlihan, saying the teams’ current goal is maintaining fitness levels until they are able to focus on training over break. 

“These are the most intense academic weeks of the year, so we just try to keep them moving,” he said. “Winter break for us is a chance to eat and sleep and get in really good shape, but also to learn how to swim fast, make the right choices and prepare for competition.”

The teams’ winter break schedule consists of roughly two weeks of training on the Bowdoin campus and one week of training in Coral Springs, Florida. In Florida, the team will also compete in the Coral Springs Invitational—a small meet against three other schools—to get swimmers ready for competition in the spring. Swimmers and divers face some of the toughest training on the Florida trip, but it also serves as a great opportunity for them to unwind and bond during downtime. 

“That week that we’re in Florida the practices are really intense, and it’s not uncommon to fail a set,” said Schwartz. “But you get to go outside in the sun, and you’re able to bond with your team by playing football on the beach and staying in a hotel room instead of just grabbing a meal and swimming in the pool.”

After Florida, the team aims to beat Bates at the January 13 meet in Lewiston. 

“Bates is always the team we compare ourselves to because they train very similarly to us and have some of the same philosophies,” said Long. “Meets against them are always intense, close, and emotional, and we plan to come out on top.”