Terrier Invitational: Next Stop, America East Conference Championships

“The key to swimming is to swim faster than the other swimmers.” – Kris “John Madden” Jenson (so where’s my $300?)

Seven of the strongest swim teams in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will converge on BU this Friday for the fifth annual Terrier Invitational. Their goal: dethrone the reigning champion Terriers. Standing in their way will be a BU squad looking to gear up for the America East Conference Championships, where the men will try to take down six-time champion University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and the women will try to three-peat as conference champions.

The BU men and women will face the University of Massachusetts, Boston College, Yale University, the College of Holy Cross, and Drexel University at the Terrier Invitational. BU’s women will also take on the University of New Hampshire and Northeastern University. UNH is a rival school in the America East conference, and UMass has won the Atlantic 10 conference championship every year but once in the last decade. Competition will be fierce, but the Terriers are ready for it.

“This is definitely the strongest class we’ve had so far,” says captain Kyle Ernst, COM Class of 2011. Ernst is arguably the best breaststroker in the conference, according to swimmers and coaches alike, winning both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke races at last year’s America East Championships. He is also on medley relay teams that have won for the past two years and have been dominating in dual-meets this season.

“Kyle Ernst is definitely a force to be reckoned with,” says captain Francesca Ferrante, CAS class of 2012. “He’s an animal in the water.”

And all the other athletes on those relay squads? They’re pretty great swimmers, too. “Individually, I’d say each swimmer on that relay can be the best in their respective event,” says captain Nate Everett, CAS Class of 2011. “When you put them together, it’s really just exciting to watch, because it’s such an all-star cast.”

From captains to coaches, everyone agrees that the best races to watch are the relays, either medley or freestyle, which will be the final events each night of the competition (except for the 200-yard medley relay, which will lead off Saturday’s competition). “It gets the whole team excited, and definitely the crowds and audience get really excited about it,” says captain Sarah Doersam, SAR Class of 2011.

Coach Bill Smith says the women’s relay racers “don’t appear to have any weaknesses.” Ernst says, “I don’t think we have a weak leg” on the men’s 200-yard medley relay squad.

The women’s freestyle relay team includes captain Maria McIntyre, SED Class of 2011, the reigning conference champion in the 50-yard freestyle sprint. McIntyre says she likes that race because its short distance makes it all about “raw speed,” where a bad start or a bad turn can break any racer.

The Terrier Invitational will be the Terriers’ first meet this season featuring a structure similar to the one used at the conference championship, with preliminary heats and finals. All told, there will be 36 races between the men and women. “A lot of swimming, a lot of time in the water, a lot of time to think about your races,” says Doersam. She also says the Invitational will serve as a “practice run” for the conference championship, and that “it’s a good chance to see how fast you can get yourself going in the heart of training season.” They also want to win the meet, of course.

Ernst says he thinks the Terrier Invitational will also be great for the younger swimmers. Those swimmers include butterfly and freestyle-swimmer Jeff Thomas, CAS Class of 2014, who just won three races last Saturday at Fordham University. Another name to watch for is Meaghan Grimes, CGS Class of 2014, who won the 200-free at Stony Brook University on Friday, then followed it up by winning the 1000-free at Fordham.

The strength of this Terrier swimming squad comes from its versatility and its unity. “Where one person falls off, someone else makes up,” Doersam says. “We really work off of each other, and it usually turns out if one person does have a good swim, it gets everyone pumped up, and sure enough more and more people will have those good swims.” This is one unified Terrier squad, with both men and women practicing together, often racing against each other.

The Terrier Invitational begins this Friday at the Fitness and Recreation Center’s Competition Pool. In Doersam’s words: “Come out and support us!”

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