Persevering through nearly five hours of rain, cold conditions and technical delays, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swim and dive teams defeated Cal Lutheran and La Verne on Senior Day Saturday — an appropriate setting to celebrate a resilient senior class.
“We’ve had so much variation,” said Riley Hoffman CM ’19. 2016, Hoffman’s first year on the team, marked the first time the Athenas failed to clinch the SCIAC championship since head coach Charlie Griffiths’ first season in 2002.
Hoffman said expectations were low going into 2017, but a talented first-year class allowed the Athenas to reclaim the SCIAC title by a large margin.
After losing to rival Pomona-Pitzer last year, the rising junior class was discouraged. But the Athenas have bounced back again, and just finished the 2018-19 regular season 8-0.
“We’ve had the ability to bounce back, take losses and take negatives as they come and then move forward,” Hoffman said.
Griffiths said this mental fortitude allowed the team to execute well on Saturday, despite the “less-than-perfect” conditions. The women (8-0) beat La Verne (1-6) 234-50 and Cal Lutheran (1-4) 234-58. The men (7-1) beat Cal Lutheran (3-2) 218-78 and La Verne (0-7) 220-40.
“The CMS swimming and diving team has established a tradition of handling challenging circumstances with poise, so we are ready for any of the issues that can come up during a meet,” Griffiths said.
The Stags also fell to P-P last year in the SCIAC championship, snapping their decade-long stranglehold over the conference.
“There are two typical responses after defeat: either being hungry for success or being a little discouraged,” John Jeang HM ’19 said. The Stags are embracing the former.
Jeang said the team is “feeling confident” going into the championship meet, where it will enter as an underdog for the first time in his four years.
“This is a team that thrives under pressure,” he said.
After dealing with inclement weather and unexpectedly strong rivals, Jeang and Hoffman know that wins are never guaranteed. They both want their teams to focus on working hard and performing their best, not on the final score.
Griffiths echoed the sentiment.
“We know that we need to bring our best each day and each season,” he said. “If we swim fast and dive well at SCIACs and NCAAs, positive team scores will be a natural byproduct.”