by Tyler Roaix
Going into the Northeast Conference Championships, the biggest weekend of the year, the Central Connecticut swimming and diving team hoped to come out on top for the fourth consecutive year. However, the team’s inconsistencies this year came back to haunt them, finishing fourth to come up short.
Bryant took home the conference championship for the first time in school history, leading the way with 793 points, followed by Wagner with 728, Saint Francis University with 582.5 and Central with 482.
The Blue Devils did, however, have many individual bright spots. For the second consecutive year, seniors Maddy Garber and Annemarie Durham won awards for Outstanding Swimmer and Outstanding Diver, respectively. This marks the eighth consecutive year the Blue Devils have had a team member win either award.
CCSU coach Dave Maliar was also joined by Bryant coach Chuck LoCurto in being honored as the Co-Diving Coaches of the Year.
Maliar attributed the award, not to himself, but to the team around him, especially Durham.
“It certainly is nice to be recognized but without a canvas, the paint will just dry on the brush,” Maliar said.
Garber has dominated the breaststroke events all year, and it was much of the same at the NEC Championships. The senior won both the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke events for the second year in a row, including a 2:15.42 time in the 200 that qualified her for the B-cut in the NCAA Championships.
Durham also defended her title in the one-meter diving event, putting up a score of 251.85 on Thursday. Her success continued into the weekend, capping off her final NEC event with another gold in the three-meter diving event. Her score of 288.0 set a new CCSU and NEC record in the process.
“Watching her dive this past weekend was truly an experience even for me as her coach,” Maliar said of Durham. “She had such a commanding presence on the board there was no doubt in my mind that she would win, and with great competition. She has an unmatched desire that is an honor to be able to coach.”
Outside of Garber and Durham, the Blue Devils had several other medal-winning finishes.
The relay team of Kaitlyn Troy, Garber, Valentina Gomez and Lauren Czulewicz kicked the championship off in style, winning the silver medal in the 200-yard medley, the first event on Wednesday. The same team would go on to place second in the 400-yard medley as well.
Aidan Devers concluded a very strong junior campaign with a silver in the 500-yard freestyle. She also placed fourth in the A-final of the 400-yard individual medley and seventh in the 200-yard backstroke.
Sophomores Gracie Regan and Gomez also did well in the 400-yard IM, placing first and second in the B-final, respectively.
Gomez capped off a strong weekend performance winning the 200-yard butterfly to clinch her first career NEC title in just her second season swimming for Central.
The Blue Devils will take place in their final meet of the year, the NCAA Championships, at Ohio State March 14 to 17.