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Women’s Swimming and Diving Ready to Build on Momentum

By Andrew Smith

Women’s swimming and diving took significant steps forward last season. The entire team improved their numbers across the board and had some memorable moments along the way. The Panthers performed strongly against the College of Staten Island and Mount St. Mary College, winning by scores of 125-96 and 58-26, respectively.

Shannon Pepe participated in eight meets for Panthers last season including the ECAC Winter Championships. Photo by AU Athletics

Junior English major Shannon Pepe stressed the importance of critical moments where the entire team could rally around one another. Special times like these created a sense of unity and a “family out of individuals,” said Pepe, a Kellenberg graduate who participated in eight meets for the Panthers in 2022-’23 with a season-high four personal bests at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECACs) Winter Championships. One of these memories occurred in the opening meet of the season when men’s swimmer Connor Singer broke the 100 breaststroke school record. This circumstance was able to bring the team closer together and served as a building point on the season.

Delaney Noel, a junior computer science major, also reflected on key moments last season and how they can build off those as they head into the young season. Noel explained, “Both our taper meets, ECACs and NE10s, had a 60% rate of lifetime best swims.”

Noel, who comes from Dubuque, Iowa, is entering her third season on the team. She has received academic distinctions for several semesters and swam three personal bests at last season’s NE10 Conference Championship.

Performances like these allow the team to see how high the “highs” can be and how they can reach those consistently if they all pull together.

Delaney Noel took the offseason to focus on the mental aspects of the game to build discipline as a distance swimmer. Photo by AU Athletics

When talking about what she learned from the last season, Noel said, “The most important lesson I learned last year was not taking my eye off the ball. Sometimes, you want to go a bit easier, but Coach [Marc Danin] always had the heat on me and I appreciate that. He could see the prize even when I didn’t; he deserves much credit.”

Noel also mentioned that last winter the team went to train in Puerto Rico and described the trip as a great bonding experience.

Both athletes reflected on the importance of focusing on the mental side of their game during the offseason. Pepe said, “My main focus during the offseason was catching up on a lot of sleep. Not having to wake up for morning practices that begin as early as 5:30 was definitely awesome, but not swimming consistently was not.

“It left a window of opportunity to get out of shape. In the offseason, I definitely was not in the pool as much, but I went to the gym as much as I could, started going on runs, and kept a healthy diet,” said Pepe, who participated in both the timed finals of the 200 Free Relay and the 200 Medley Relay and helped Adelphi place seventh overall at the competition.

Noel took the time to focus on her mindset during her matches. “As a distance swimmer, I really need that discipline during my long races, and I’m grateful I took time to focus on it. I have this new attitude and drive. I’m always thinking ‘one more’ and pushing myself past my limits, and I’m happy to see it already making an impact on my swims.”

Another storyline the new season brings is that the women’s swimming and diving team enters with seven first-year students. “We gained a lot of strong and fast rookies, which I think gave our team more confidence and made us want to work harder to get faster times,” Pepe said.

Noel added, “The numbers are the most obvious thing. We just possess more power and depth to compete with, and with that, there’s a lot more encouragement on the sidelines.”

The Panther swim team is looking forward to many key matches on the calendar. Noel mentioned the meet when Southern Connecticut State University comes to Garden City on Jan. 20. “They’re the biggest and the baddest in the region, and I love how we are becoming a thorn in their side,” she said.

Pepe discussed the ECAC at the mid-season point on Dec. 1 to 3. “Last season, almost everyone on the team, myself included, swam lifetime best times, and I am excited to swim in it again because I have a strong feeling that it will happen again.”

Both players also gave shoutouts to their head coach, Danin, who they love competing for. “I’m extremely grateful for Coach Marc, who has poured his heart and soul into this team, as well as my fellow teammates who keep my love of swimming alive,” Noel said.

Pepe added, “With the amazing training tactics from Coach Marc, other teams aren’t going to know what hit them.”

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