Open Announce

Lobo Swimming & Diving Returns Saturday

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When The University of New Mexico swimming & diving team finally hits the pool on Saturday afternoon for its relay meet with visiting Adams State, it will be a triumphant return to a program that was on the rise at the end of Keegan Ingelido’s first season.  Then the program had its 2020-21 season washed out due to COVID when UNM missed most of the season due to state health restrictions.  In the end the program will have waited 581 days between meets.

Amazingly, they almost got knocked back out on day 580, but a slight issue with the heating system in Seidler Natatorium was fixed, and barring a meteor strike or underground aliens emerging from the base of Johnson Center, the Lobos will finally return to the pool, the final UNM team to return from COVID hiatus.

The meet with Adams State will begin at 3 p.m. at Seidler Natatorium, and it is free for all patrons.  Fans must abide with all COVID safe practices since it is an indoor venue, meaning wearing a mask when not actively eating or drinking and abiding by UNM’s clear bag policy.

The meet will be a relay meet, with no individual races, and it will be scored. There will be a diving exhibition to begin the meet, although it will not count in the overall scoring.  The eight relay races are as follows:

200 Medley Relay
500 Free Relay (150/50/100/200
3 x 100 IM
3x 100 Fly
200 Free Relay
3 x 100 Back
3 x 100 Breast
400 Free Relay

The meet will see more than half the squad make their Lobo debuts, as 17 of the 31 on the squad have never competed for the Lobos.  While that includes obvious candidates like UNM’s eight incloming freshmen, it also includes eight sophomores who were new to the program in 2020-21, and one junior in Maddie Deucher.

The 2021-22 Lobos will be anchored by its upperclasswomen, headed by swim captains Mari Aoki, Raine Gavino and Jordan Hartley along with diver Jocelyn Gallais.  UNM does return a few All-Mountain West athletes from the 2020 championships (it’s last meet).  Josie Carpenter took second in the 2020 championships in the 1,650 and Mary Aoki took seventh in the 400-yard individual medley.  Additionally, Olivia Bishop swam a leg of the 400-yard relay squad that broke a long-standing Lobo record, and Jocelyn Gallais was sixth in the platform dive to also pick up all-conference honors.

Considering that UNM hasn’t competed officially in around 19 months (the squad did practice in the spring of 2021 after the normal season would have been completed), a meet, any meet, anywhere, would have been acceptable.  Now to open with a home meet this weekend and then host it’s Cherry/Silver exhibition next week is the perfect way for all of UNM to welcome the last team back into the fold.  After spending a year and a half watching their schoolmates compete and win six championships last spring while still recording a team GPA of 3.55, it’s now time for swimming and diving to continue that climb the team was on at the end of the 2020 season.

A no broken heating coil in a pool was going to stop that.  A meteor could, but it would have to be a pretty big meteor to stop the Lobos from returning to where they belong: in the pool, competing.