Clark University Swim and Dive Family at the NEWMAC Championships 2023

CUSDF Showed off their Staches and Splashes at NEWMACS


Morgan Martin

Sophomore Rowan Compton competing in the 100-yard butterfly.


The Clark men’s and women’s swim teams traveled not far from home this weekend to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to compete in the 2023 NEWMAC Championships.  

I was granted the opportunity to spend Saturday morning on the pool deck with the swim team. My main takeaway from this experience is that Clark athletics does not fall short when it comes to team spirit. The energy on the pool deck was overwhelming in the best way as the Cougars were constantly seen cheering on their fellow swimmers. The stream of cheers and celebratory high-fives was endless, truly emphasizing the team’s dedication to not only the sport but to each other as well. 

Besides the abundance of team spirit and exuberant expressions of dedication, there was something else bringing the team together this weekend- mustaches. Nearly every member of the men’s swim team was rocking a ‘stache this championship. Intrigued, I spoke to the person who had planned this “mustache phenomenon,” sophomore Rowan Compton.

So, what was the reasoning behind coordinating the men’s team to grow mustaches this meet?

“Gor [Bagumyan, senior] has had a mustache at many championships and I thought it would be funny if propagated by me.”

While a lot of the men’s team is seen with mustaches today, there are some members without mustaches, why is that?

“They don’t have full passion, also some of them just can’t grow mustaches. Some of them just decided against it- it’s not forced.”

How long did you give the men’s team to grow their mustaches?

“Since like Wednesday.”

Do you think the mustaches have brought the team closer together for this meet?

“Yes! They’re so silly. I love Xander’s.” 

To see one of these rockin’ staches in action, you can head on over to the team’s Instagram page (@clarkuswimdive) and find a video of the ever-talented senior swim captain, Robbie Wilson, performing the national anthem on the cello prior to the 6:00 pm session Friday night. Beautiful performance, beautiful ‘stache. 

Despite the positive attitudes and rockin’ ‘staches, there were some obstacles this weekend that made competing a bit more difficult for the swimmers at the NEWMAC championships. While WPI offers a massive pool it lacks room on the deck for mobility outside of the water. This made it difficult for people to walk around the pool, resulting in many verbal altercations between swimmers of opposing teams; as there simply was not enough room for everyone on deck.“You couldn’t get anywhere, you had to push and shove”, one swimmer reported. Ten schools competed in this championship, of which there were 10 women’s teams and 7 men’s teams. This being said, there was hardly enough room for the swimmers to sit on their assigned pool-deck bleachers which meant the swim team was standing for several hours each day. “We have one of the smallest teams…When there’s so little seating room, it’s really bad. You’re standing the entire time, and your legs are getting ‘stocked up’ basically because there is no room to sit… That kills your legs… There’s no space to cool down, so by the time you get to day three and day four you are hurting, you’re hurting bad and you still have to swim,” reported one of the swimmers. With this level of attendance, one can make the argument that the championship needed to be held at a facility with more room to accommodate all of the swimmers especially considering the possible effects lack of room can have on the performance of the competing athletes. 

Photo of the stands. (Morgan Martin)

There were a few more technical issues besides just space that affected the swimmers at the championships this year. I was able to speak to one of Clark’s swimmers regarding their feelings about the championships being held at WPI this year and they told me about an inconvenient experience they had the day before I spoke to them, which unfortunately interfered with their race significantly. “During [their race] I was the second heat, but the first one in this specific lane, so the first one to use that counter for the meet. So I was swimming, and the counter did not have the number 7. So I get to lap 7, and [the person counting] flips to the 7 but it is not there. They didn’t have enough time before I hit the wall to figure out what was going on, so they did not put the counter in. So I freak out because I do not understand what is going on. I go from being first in my heat, to last in my heat in the span of a 25.” While this may seem like a small error, it is expected that the quality of the equipment is ensured before a significant meet such as this. The next NEWMAC championship meet is scheduled to be held at MIT, hopefully meaning WPI will fix these important issues before the championships are held in their pool again.

Regardless of any struggles our Cougars faced, CUSDF continued to put in their all this weekend at NEWMACs. Provided are brief recaps of each day at the championships for both the women’s and men’s swimming and dive teams. A grand total of 147 points for the women’s team and 204 points for the men’s team were earned in this championship. 

Thursday night the women’s team opened the championships with an 800 freestyle.  Sarah Kersting-Mumm, Amelia Kulzer, Kenzie Landsittel and Sydney Kochensparger finished in 10th place at 8:43.15. Ivy Joyal, Annemaire Walsh, Hannah Poulos and Samantha Slater placed ninth in the “B” final with a time of 8:52.39. The men’s team also competed Thursday night. Alex Bielecki, Rowan Compton, Xander Haddock and Nick Cordell swam in the 800 freestyle and placed seventh with a time of 7:43.93. 

The women’s team ended day two with 109 points. A brief recap of day two for the women’s team: Cai Hall competed in the three-meter dive, earning 15 points and finishing in eighth with a score of 384.70. Hannah McLeod, Wynne Collins, Emily Munjar and Annemaire Walsh gained 28 points for the Cougars when they competed in the 200-yard freestyle relay placing ninth in the “A” final. Carolynn Steffens, Slater, Athina Martinez and Kochensparger finished with a time of 1:50.25 in the “B” final of the 200-yard freestyle relay. Amelia Kulzer, Martinez, Munjar and McLeod swam a time of 4:18.85 in the 400-yard medley relay placing them in tenth place. Kochensparger and Landsittel swam the two best times on the team in the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries. Kochensparger at 5:54.12 and Landsittel with 5:55.88. Joyal and Kulzer were neck to neck in the 200-yard IM preliminaries, Joyal finishing at 2:26.77 and Kulzer at 2:26.95. Senior McLeod competed in the 50-yard freestyle preliminaries, producing a time of 25.98.

The men’s team ended day two of the championships with 120 points. A brief recap of day two for the men’s team: Senior Gor Bagumyan finished the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.36, qualifying for the “B” final. He later placed third in the “B” final, improving his time to 21.34. Furthermore, Bielecki and Cordell swam Clark’s best scores in the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries, junior Bielecki with a time of 5:06.01, and freshman Cordell with a time of 5:20.40. Senior Bernave Twyman produced a time of 2:08.46 in the 200-yard IM preliminaries. Bagumyan, Daniel Smith, Twyman and Tyler Broderick earned 32 points for Clark in the 200-yard freestyle relay “A” final, finishing with a time of 1:31.01. In the “B” final, Robbie Wilson, Xander Haddock, Luca Shapiro and Evan Sucov finished at 1:38.65. Another 32 points were gained as Smith, Broderick, Twyman and Bagumyan swam in the 400-medley relay with a time of 3:43.68

Day three for the women’s team ended with 129 points. A brief recap of day three for the women’s team: Emily Munjar finished the 100-yard butterfly preliminary with a time of 1:01.65, qualifying for the “B” final in which she improved her time, finishing at 1:01.34, earning five points. Munjar also competed in the 100-yard backstroke producing a time of 1:00.90. Munjar, Martinez, Poulos and McLeod clocked a time of 1:56.73 in the “A” 200-yard medley relay, earning 26 points. In the “B” 200-yard medley relay, Kulzer, Landsittel, Steffens and Collins finished with a time of 2:05.13. Poulos and Blair competed in the 100-yard butterfly preliminaries, Poulos finishing at 1:07.51 and Blair at 1:11.29. McLeod and Walsh clocked the two fastest times in the 200-yard freestyle preliminaries, McLeod with a time of 2:06.95 and Walsh with a time of 2:10.57. Furthermore, Martinez  (1:15.52) and Poulos (1:17.11)  produced the fastest times in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries.

Day three for the men’s team ended with 160 points. A brief recap of day three for the men’s team: Broderick finished the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:00.72. Compton, Broderick, Twyman and Bagumyan produced a time of 1:39.37 in the 200-yard medley relay earning 32 points for the team. Smith, Bielecki, Wilson and Shapiro finished the “B” 200-yard medley relay final at 1:47.32. Twyman swam a time of 55.71 in the 100-yard butterfly preliminaries, and Smith with a time of 56.36. Bagumyan clocked a time of 1:49.42 in the 200-yard freestyle preliminaries, Cordell with a time of 1:55.15. Bielecki competed in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries, producing a time of 1:03.68

The Clark women’s team ended the championship in tenth place. A brief recap of day four for the women’s team: Munjar placed fourth in the “B” final 200-yard backstroke, producing a time of 2:10.59. Hall scored 384.70 in the three-meter dive earning 15 points and finishing in eighth place. The 400-yard freestyle relay was swum by Collins, Walsh, Munjar and McLeod, clocking a time of 3:55.66. Landsittel, Kulzer, Slater and Kochensparger recorded a time of 4:00.76 in the 400-yard freestyle relay “B” final. Lastly, McLeod (56.62) and Collins (58.79) competed in the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries, recording the best two times. 

The men’s team ended the championship in seventh place. A brief recap of day four for the men’s team: Broderick broke Clark’s record in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 26.68 in a time trial. Congratulations Broderick! Bagumyan competed in the 100-yard freestyle “B” final, placing in seventh with a final time of 47.31. Cordell finished the 1650 freestyle final with a time of 19:01.79. Broderick, Bagumyan, Twyman and Compton finished the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:24.12, earning 32 points. Cordell, Bielecki, Smith and Wilson produced a final time of 3:35.68 in the 400-yard freestyle “B” final. Broderick (51.78), Smith (52.68) and Sucov (53.45) produced the best times in the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries. Bielecki finished the 200-yard breaststroke with a final time of 2:19.56. Twyman nearly made finals in the 200-yard butterfly, finishing with a time of 2:03.90 placing him 22nd in the preliminaries. Compton and Shapiro competed in the 200-yard butterfly preliminaries, Compton finishing at 2:04.45 and Shapiro at 2:09.34.

Senior Recognition on Saturday night. From left to right: Robbie Wilson, Bernave Twyman, Will Mahon, Gor Bagumyan, Hannah McLeod, Cai Hall and Aislin Blair. (via @clarkuswimdive on Instagram)

Overall, CUSDF represented Clark with pride this weekend at NEWMACS, competing fiercely and producing impressive times in each of their races. I would like to thank Coach Paul E. Philips for inviting me down to the pool deck and allowing me to experience the championships firsthand. I would also like to thank the team for participating in my interviews and welcoming me into their stomping grounds (or should I say splashing grounds). The season is over for the Clark University Swim and Dive Family, but I think I speak for all of us when I say we cannot wait to see what’s in store for next season. Roll Cougs!