Rollins Swim reentered the pool to battle its opponents at the University of North Florida Season Kickoff for the first time since 2019. The men’s team came third behind Florida Southern and Florida Tech, whereas the women’s team came fifth in a game of margins.
“It was very nice to finally be able to compete again,” said Ward Lockhart (‘24). “The swimming part wasn’t anything different; swimming is swimming. It was just very nice to finally get to race again for the first time in so long.”
The two-time Alabama State Champion in the 500-yard freestyle did not have the chance to race at all during his freshman year, but his sophomore debut was something special. Lockhart came first in the 500-yard and third in the 50-yard freestyle, as well as fifth in the 50-yard backstroke.
“I could have done a bit better if I would have raced a bit smarter, but other than that I think I did pretty well,” Lockhart said.
His individual goal for the year is winning the 500- and 1650-yard freestyle events at the Conference Championships. Lockhard also teamed up with Jacland Reville (‘25) and Cruse Sweeney (‘23) for the 300-yard backstroke relay.
He believes the men’s team should aim to place top three in the conference and that, despite the challenges, Rollins has assembled the right cohort to do so.
Asa Marvel (‘22), Daniel Liew (‘23), and Michael Tucker (‘25) snatched second place in the 300-yard butterfly.
Other top performers included Tully Njoroge (‘24), the sophomore from Johannesburg, South Africa, who posted solid times in the 50- and 100-yard backstrokes, as well as the 100-yard breaststroke.
On the women’s team, Bia Olivieri (‘22) picked up right where she left off, barely missing out on a win in the 100-yard butterfly. The senior from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil also took second place in the 300-yard butterfly relay, together with dynamic freshman duo Sarah Brown (‘25) and Lauren Diehl (‘25).
Another freshman who enjoyed a busy start to their collegiate career was Kate Goldtrap (‘25). Goldtrap teamed up with Mackenzie Adams (‘25) and Abigayle Wood (‘24) to secure second place in the 300-yard breaststroke relay. She also competed individually in the 50- and 100-yard breaststrokes.
Seasoned veterans Alonna Clark (‘22) and Sydney Willis (‘22) paired up with the aspiring Camila Cramer (‘25) and Amelia Kondal (‘25) in the 400-yard freestyle individual relay.
“Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way the team performed. I think we all did about as good as we could have at this meet, which is all you can really ask for,” a Lockhart said.
Lockhart said that he cherishes the atmosphere and the culture in the team, which are not easy to come by after a year of COVID-19. He said that improvements will come with repetitions and intensity.
“The whole team is very engaged and energetic and overall, whether it’s at practice or at a competition, it’s a great environment to be in,” Lockhart said.