By: Aidan McHugh
The Purchase swim team might not have many wins to their name, and their meets may be sparsely attended, but they certainly don’t lack for passion.
So far, the men’s record is 3-8, while the women’s team is 6-8, nonetheless, spirits are high among both the staff and the athletes.
J. Brian Hansbury, director of aquatics and coach of both swim teams for the past three years, was very proud of what his swimmers had accomplished so far in the season, singling out Brienne Westfall, who won the title of rookie of the week at the Skyline Conference.
He also cited the mens team’s performance against Lehman College, which, while still a loss, was a closer game than last year, with a final score of 92 to 148.
“Fall 2019 has been good to us. We’re fortunate to have a lot of new faces,” Hansbury said.
Some on the team are newly recruited athletes who discovered they have a knack for swimming after they made their way to the pool and joined a swim team for the first time in their lives. He did note, with some amusement, that many at Purchase are unaware there’s even a pool on campus, which perhaps explains the fluctuating turnout at the swim meets.
Hansbury recalled one memorable highlight of student turnout, at a meet against Brooklyn College.
“We had a very zealous young lady in the stands, with her pom-poms from the cheerleading team, and to me, it’s not comical, it’s amazing, cause kids are crossing the road,” said Hansbury.
He added that having friends in the stands cheer them on is a major boost to the players, describing it as terrific to watch.
Hansbury admitted that while the team’s budget “doesn’t look like much,” his players are able to make do with what they’re given, typically providing their own equipment.
Furthermore, he added that “[The school] is generous with what they can provide, and we’re very appreciative of that.”
Hansbury felt that while swimming may not be as popular a sport as, say, basketball or soccer, the budget is well distributed, and he’s keen to have the swim team reach the same heights as the other teams.
“Compared to the other sports, if there’s a sport that’s more popular out there, we’re aiming for them, to get to their level,” said Hansbury.
Swimmers like Aidan Mauer, a freshmen painting and drawing major and Ayrell Beaulieu-Shaffer, a freshman voice and opera major, shared Hansbury’s optimism, and his passion for the sport. Both swam on their high-school teams, so competing at the college level was a natural choice.
“I’m not doing as best as I would like to be, but it’s a more chill swim team,” said Mauer.
He’s confident that the team will build up momentum as new swimmers get adjusted. He also wasn’t too bothered by the usually low turnout at meets, pointing out that swimming is more of a niche sport.
“Nobody really grows up watching swimming,” said Mauer, adding that most of the people interested in swimming are in the pool, not in the stands.
Beaulieu-Shaffer echoed those thoughts, noting that in terms of performance, “we have a lot of new swimmers, so we’re improving a lot since the first swim meet.”
“Am I winning a national championship? Not this year, maybe not next year, but who knows down the road,” said Hansbury. “But, my kids are enjoying the sport, they’re enjoying being here, they’re enjoying each other, and they’re working hard.”