CMS Swim and Dive seeks to make a splash following successful 2022-2023 season

CMS athlete swims butterfly in NCAA competition
CMS swim and dive ramp up for another NCAA final caliber Courtesy: Carlos Morales

Jumping into their talent pool to keep competitors in their wake, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Swim and Dive team’s (deep end) goal is to build off of last year’s success. After filling their tummies with a feast of achievements in the winter 2022-23 season, CMS is hungry for more.

Last year, CMS clinched the SCIAC conference title for both their women’s and men’s team, with the Stags going back-to-back and the Athenas reclaiming it from their Sixth Street rival, the Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) Sagehens. However, conference dominance was not the end of their story. Two of CMS’s swimmers, Athena August Lewis CM ’23 and Stag Frank Applebaum CM ’24, went onto win national titles in North Carolina, marking the first time members of CMS Swim and Dive had ever won an individual NCAA DIII championship.

CMS hopes to ride last year’s wave into this season. Through their commitment to holistic athlete development, daily improvement and fostering team unity, the Athenas and Stags are optimistic about another successful winter, setting their sights on both SCIAC and national titles.

Head coach Charles Griffith explained the program is working to maintain their position on top by helping their athletes develop as individuals, both in and out of the water.

“We stay focused on process goals throughout the year,” Griffith said. “Those goals include succeeding academically, improving in the pool, being good citizens of the colleges and the world and having fun with the process and with each other.”

Swimmer Milan Manfredi CM ’27, who is about to begin her first season as an Athena, said she has already felt the positive impact of the team’s holistic approach to improvement.

“While [the coaches and captains] care about your performance as an athlete, they care about your well being as a person first,”  Manfredi said. “I think it is nice to be in a place where they see you both as a person and an athlete.”

Griffith noted that the team has embraced their principles with the adoption of a new catchphrase.

“Our theme for the year is ‘Win the Day,’” Griffth said. “The key to our success is to take advantage of our daily opportunities to train, compete and enjoy each other.”

According to diver Bennet Matazzoni HM ’26, the season’s ‘theme’ provides him with a clear direction.

“I understand [the theme] as putting all you can into each day,” Matazzoni said. 

However, despite emphasizing daily holistic personal progress, according to Matazzoni, CMS recognizes the indispensable value of teamwork. He expressed that the close-knit community within the program is another essential ingredient in the team’s recipe for success.

“When you have a team that you are more comfortable with they can better push you to improve and try harder dives and it makes you more excited to be at practice,” Matazzoni said.

Griffth echoed this and said that CMS’s program places the focus on collective teamwork rather than individual achievement. He credited the success of the NCAA champions to the entire program.

“The titles were the result of full-team efforts with substantial contributions from swimmers and divers from each of our three colleges, all four class years and each of our training groups,” Griffith said.

Manfredi credited the team’s strong sense of community to student-led practices and non-swim related activities organized by the captains.

“Our captains are super involved,” Manfredi said. “Prior to the start of [the] season … the captains would write their own practices, encourage people to show up, give encouragement during the actual swims and organize team events and dinners.”

Manfredi also emphasized the captains’ efforts to foster unity have helped her transition into the team as well as create a good community that she said will set the team up for success.

“As a freshman being integrated into the team … [that] really set the tone for a good team environment,” Manfredi said.

Acknowledging the hard work the captains have put into strengthening the team’s culture, coach Griffth said he has  noticed the team pushing itself and appreciates the hard work.

“Our divers have been throwing some new dives and increasing the degree of difficulty in their lists,” Griffith said. “The swimmers have been working sets on tighter intervals than in the past and training at a slightly higher level each week.”

Matazzoni said he is happy with the way the pre-season went and is hopeful the team’s hard work in the offseason will pay off with postseason success once again.

“I think that we’re preparing pretty quickly this year,” Matazzoni said. “We are jumping into difficult training pretty quickly. It should put us in good shape for a season where we perform well.”

Looking forward, CMS swim and dive will compete in their first conference meet of the season starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4 when they will host Chapman and Whittier at Axelrod pool.

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