Griffs sweep Canisius Invitational

By Alex Beilman

Sports Reporter

The Canisius College synchronized swimming team has started this season off with a splash. The team defeated last year’s national runner up, the University of the Incarnate Word, in their first meet.

A week later, they triumphed over both Penn State and Wheaton College to win the Canisius Invitational meet.

This success is nothing new to the team, however. The team has been one of the most successful on campus, winning 15 consecutive ECAC conference titles.

The team’s goal this year is to not only win a 16th straight conference championship, but to also put on a strong showing at nationals.

“We’re expecting to pull out really good swims at nationals,” junior swimmer Jess Mancini said. “It’s going to be a really high level of competition because everyone from the Olympic team is back at their respective schools.”

Mancini said that, although they focus on each upcoming meet, the goal and focus is always the national competition, which is to be held in Stanford, California this season.

“We have nationals on the mind from day one,” Mancini said. “Once the week of a particular meet comes, we’ll focus on that meet, we’ll focus on getting everything cleaned up for that meet, but I would say our main focus is the national competition.”

Mancini also explained what the team tries to incorporate into their successful routines.

“The routine is judged artistically and technically,” Mancini said. “Artistically, it’s how you interpret the music, the choreography, how you present it to the judges. From a technical standpoint, it’s how high you are out of the water, how matched and synchronized you are, and the level of difficulty.”

The team puts in a lot of work, practicing for about 20 hours a week plus the regular workouts. The hard work has paid off so far in the team’s 2-0 start this season.

At the Canisius Invitational, the team swept all four routines, and won with an astonishing 87 points. Wheaton, the second place finisher, had 71 points and Penn State finished last with just 19 points.

Junior Svetlana Ponkratova was the standout performer, scoring a dominating 88.833. The team also swept all three spots in the trio competition. Senior Victoria Mintz, sophomore Viktoria Mironova, and Mancini took first place with a score of 86.000. Even more astonishing, however, was the team’s group routine with a score of 89.667. Mancini admits that is one of team’s favorite routines.

“We work hard on all of the routines, but my personal favorite is the team routine,” Mancini said. “It’s rock n’ roll, we all really love to swim it. It’s challenging but fun at the same time. It’s already gotten a good response from the judges we’ve seen, and some of them are judges we’ll see in national competition.”

The team will continue the road to nationals on the weekend of Feb. 16, when they travel to Norton, Massachusetts to participate in the Wheaton invitational. There the team will face Wheaton College and Lindenwood.

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