Some moments in sports just seem to be written like a story. Senior Brian Friedlander of Fairfield’s Swimming and Diving Team had one of those moments at the MAAC Championships over the weekend.
In Friedlander’s last race for the Stags, the 200-yard breaststroke, he broke a program record by .68 seconds, with a time of 2:06.04, and placed 6th overall.
“I want to say it was surreal,” said Friedlander. “In four years I’ve really gone without breaking any records.” Now Friedlander graduates with a record to his name, and he isn’t the only one.
Fellow senior Michelle Yoshida leaves the program with 11 individual program records and 10 relay records. Like Friedlander, she set another record in her last individual race, the 200-yard backstroke, with a time of 2:02.90.
“As a recruit and a freshman, [Coach Farley] told me that I would be able to make a significant impact on the team and the Swimming & Diving program in general. I never really thought about it at the time, but now looking back I’m very happy I was able to swim as well as I did and keep improving my times every year,” said Yoshida.
Yoshida did just that and left the MAAC Championships with two silver medals, in the 200-yard backstroke and the 50-yard freestyle, and defended gold in the 100-yard backstroke. Yoshida will leave Fairfield with nine individual MAAC titles, three silver medals, and one bronze relay medal.
“Individually, the 100-yard back record will stand apart for me because I never really gave backstroke any thought until last year, and I dropped three seconds after focusing on it. It was a very unexpected and rewarding experience,” said Yoshida.
While Yoshida and Friedlander had career performances at the MAAC Championships, other Stags also stepped up and had inspired meets.
Freshman Ashlee Steinberger was named the MAAC Women’s Most Outstanding Diver after a remarkable showing at the MAAC Championships. Steinberger won the 3-meter event with a composite score of 250.60 points. With the victory on Thursday, she became the first female diver to win a MAAC event since 1993. She also placed fourth on the 1-meter diving event.
Freshman Tyler Conley also had a strong MAAC Tournament as he placed sixth overall in the Men’s 100 yard freestyle and set a program record in the same event during preliminaries with a time 46.89 seconds.
Even with young talent such as Steinberger and Conley coming through the ranks, seniors like Friedlander and Yoshida will most certainly be missed.
“My four years with the team has been an honor and a great ride,” said Yoshida. “Being able to meet so many great people, and to learn and grow from so many experiences will be unforgettable.”
Friedlander echoed Yoshida’s sentiments saying, “It’s probably the best experience I’ve ever had. Just the way the team’s bonded over the four years, it really just made it an awesome experience.”
Friedlander also notes one thing that has led to all his achievements, as well as the success of the team as a whole. “It was all a lot of hard work… and I think it’s paid off.”
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