Swim team uses unity to drive their success


Guilford College women’s swimming sophomore swimmer Carolyn O’Halloran races at the 2017 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Swimming Championships.// Photo courtesy Guilford Athletics.

Guilford College’s swim team is going to strive to break College records in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference this season.

With only seven people on the team, Guilford struggles to compete in the ODAC over teams like Washington and Lee University that have 26 women on the roster. There are a couple smaller teams in the ODAC that Guilford tries to compare itself to.

Even with a team that has numbers fluctuating between 10 and 5, it has had a couple of solid performers throughout the season.

Sophomore Carolyn O’Halloran is the team’s top sprinter. She has come close a few times to breaking College records. At the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jacket Invitational on Dec. 1-2, O’Halloran finished the 50-yard freestyle in 26.68 seconds, .41 seconds off the College record. She also got within .23 seconds of the 100 free record at the same event.

“I’m hoping for my best performances to come probably at the ODAC meet in February,” said O’Halloran. “I’m really excited for it, I’m hoping to break another record.”

Senior Isabel Gutierrez has been succeeding this season for the Quakers. Gutierrez has been putting in the Quakers top times in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Gutierrez holds two of the top five times in the 100 breaststroke.

“It’s been pretty good,” said Gutierrez about her four years on the team. “It’s been kind of wobbly just because in four years I’ve had three coaches … junior and senior year have been with (Cox) and so it’s a little more stable and we’re starting to build and learn how we work with each other more than just changing every single year.”

Guilford’s best meet of the season happened on Jan. 13 at Greensboro College where they beat William Peace University and Virginia Wesleyan University, but narrowly fell to Greensboro College. Gutierrez and O’Halloran both won two events during the meet. The team also won the 4×50 meter freestyle relay and finished second in the 200 medley relay.

“We’ve had more dual-meet victories this year than we did last year, said Cox. “Last year was the first time we had a dual-meet victory in five years.”

The last dual-meet victory came in 2012 when Guilford beat Emory & Henry University on Jan.22 at Greensboro College.

The team finished its regular season last weekend where they picked up a victory over Greensboro College at a dual-meet held at Hollins University. O’Halloran placed second in the 50 free and 100 free.

The team ended the season with a 5-13 overall record and 3-12 in the ODAC.

With a small team, there is more interaction and relationships formed between the players and the coach.

“It’s easier to go in and focus a little bit more on each girl. And ‘focus on each girl doesn’t necessarily mean we’re focusing on technique all the time,” said Cox.  “I feel it allows me to have better conversations with them. ‘How are classes going?’, ‘What’s going on in life?’.”

The team now is preparing for the ODAC championships. While Guilford is not a favorite to win, they want to improve upon their eighth-place finish last year. With no on-campus pool, the team practices at the nearby American Hebrew Academy early in the morning.

“I hope that we all can just push to ODACs and I hope everybody gets a great performance at that big meet,” said O’Halloran.

The ODAC swimming championships will be held on Feb. 9-11 in the Greensboro Aquatic Center.