team cheerHard work pays off for St. Joe's swimmers in strong second year

This season was uplifting for the St. Joe's women's swim team, as it held its first-ever swim meet in the Harold Alfond Center, with the athletes motivated to prove to the campus community and their contenders, just how hard-working they are. Sinking Husson University by a 170-84 score, the St. Joe's swimmers felt newly revived about the season and realized their efforts had paid off.

"It was a confidence booster for everyone," says Hannah Gajewski '12, as she celebrated the team's victory after its first home meet, in which she earned three individual victories.

Gajewski along with Lindsay D'Ascanio '11 were major players in this year's program, breaking new records and setting the standard for the season. As a winning member of the 200-Medley relay team, D'Ascanio topped teammate Katie Brooks' time in the 50-Back competition and now holds six individual time records at St. Joe's.

Named the GNAC Rookie Swimmer of the year for 2008, D'Ascanio continues to impress. She has earned top finishes in GNAC this season and has been mentioned in its Weekly Honor Roll selections, setting a new program record in the 400-Free Relay. Success has lifted D'Ascanio's confidence, about herself as an individual, and about the team.

Freshman swimmer Gajewski was named the GNAC Conference Rookie Swimmer of the year for 2009 and GNAC Co-Swimmer of the Week for the last week of the season. With the help of her coach, Rick Horr, she has won 16 individual events this season and has set nine individual program records throughout. Of her coach, she says, "He knows what he is doing ... he is always willing to help."

As a first-time coach at St. Joe's, Horr gave his team the boost they needed to continue doing well throughout the season. GNAC victories were a highlight of the season for Coach Horr. "[Taking second at the GNAC Championships] was the first time the team and I realized we really were a strong team. GNAC was a chance for the team to come together," he says. In the program's second year, the St. Joe's swim team has earned 111 points at GNAC, breaking last year's record of fifth place, with a total of 65 points.

Horr has coached swimming since age 19 and most recently served as the assistant coach at the University of New England. He says that hosting the first swim meet on campus, which included both men and women, was also a highlight of the season. "It needed to happen," he adds.

Coach Horr remains very proud of the team's accomplishments. The swimmers ended their season at the New England Championships, where they came in 17th place with a 99-point finish, a vast improvement over last year. During the tournament, the women broke five team records. Gajewksi alone advanced to the finals in three events.

Both coach and the team know that putting forth 100 percent and coming together as a team has been a huge part of this season's success. "It is about teamwork, setting goals, and having fun," says Horr.

by Kayla Collins '11