Purchase, NY (Feb. 14, 2011) – Maybe it’s time to rename Purchase the City of Champions.
The last three seasons, the Purchase College women’s swim team has brought plenty of fame to the area. This winter, the Panthers captured their second Skyline Conference Women’s Swim Tournament Championship in the past three years. Purchase finished second last February, but bounced back in a big way this February, winning its second crown since 2008-09.
For the lack of a better word, the team came through swimmingly all year long. The reward was the ultimate goal the team had in mind from day one of preseason workouts. “I have a great group of kids,” head coach Peter Nestel said. “I have the best assistant coach [Patricia Orellana], they all worked tremendously hard all year long, and undoubtedly they reaped the benefits.”
Heading into the season, the Panthers knew they had lofty expectations, and Nestel was determined to get the best out of each and every one of his swimmers.
It wasn’t until the team was walking into Old Westbury’s Clarks Athletic Center, where a sense of nervousness set in amongst the women on championship weekend. However, shortly after warm ups, the Panthers learned of some good news that helped put their nerves at ease.
St. Joseph’s College-LI, one of the top relay teams in the conference, had been disqualified from that particular event. “Certainly, that put us in an upbeat mood,” Nestel said. “It wasn’t a sense of relief but more so an attitude that we’ve got this, it can be done.”
Led by Skyline Conference Co-Swimmer of the Year Sarah Bopp, the Panthers raced out to an early lead and never looked back in the championship. Depth was once again the name of the game for Purchase. Swimmers like Sydney Cohen and Katherine Abrams were key assets, because they knew their roles and would amass points that would further enhance the star-studded lineup of Bopp, Morgan Anderson, Kamara Lewis and Kaitlyn Raitz.
“When we won it all two years ago, we were dominant, we had the best swimmers; this year we won it because of our depth,” Nestel explained. “We were set up to win because of each and every member on the team; no team in our conference could have put up a better lineup from top to bottom.”