Swimming and Diving Teams Impress at NE-10 Conference Championships


Daniel Galarza, Annabel Keppel-Palmer, Sophia Howard and Alexis Heiney (pictured above) won gold medals for the Setters in the NE-10 Conference Championship. Photo Courtesy of Pace U Athletics.

Kwadar Ray, Managing Editor

Gold medals were won and school records were squashed when the Pace Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams competed in the NE-10 Conference Championships Feb. 8-11 in Worcester, MA.

Both teams finished fourth overall, but 18 medals were awarded to the Setters, including gold medals won by freshmen Annabel Keppel-Palmer and Sophia Howard, and juniors Alexis Heiney and Daniel Galarza.

Howard, who earned gold in the 1-meter diving competition, was also given the NE-10 Most Valuable Diver Award.

“At the end of the day, I was very pleased with how we finished as a team,” head coach Dan Allen said. “We fought all the way through.”

Leading up to the meet, the training process was intensified relative to previous seasons.

“I think we really changed our preparation from last year,” Galarza, who won two total medals throughout the four-day meet, said. “We needed to increase our speed and efficiency in the water, which I think really showed in the NE-10 Championship.”

Galarza and Keppel-Palmer both came into the championships with chips on their shoulders.

Despite the fact that Keppel-Palmer had won multiple awards for her superb performances this season, she says she still felt underestimated because she was a freshman.

“Going into it, I was somewhat of an underdog,” Keppel-Palmer, who won gold medals in the 200 IM and the 200-back, said. “No one on the other teams really knew who I was and I guess no one expected a freshman to win. It was amazing to win. It feels nice that all the work you’ve been doing and practice has paid off in the end.”

Galarza’s chip was more like a boulder. The junior had his eyes set on redemption after battling an illness and under-performing during last year’s NE-10 Conference championship.

Galarza redeemed himself the best way he could–by winning a gold medal in the 1650 freestyle in record breaking fashion and earning the B-cut he’s strived for his three seasons as a member of the team.

“It felt very special,” he said. “My goal originally was to always win the gold, but it was very emotional because last year I had a very difficult and disappointing season. So, coming back from the mental state I was in last year and building on that, fighting continuing to train and not giving up was great.”

The offseason has arrived for both teams. The women’s squad finishes with an impressive 8-1 record, while the men’s team finished 4-4. Keppel-Palmer views the season as a successful one that shattered expectations.

“I feel that Pace, overall as a team, exceeded people’s expectations and we did a lot better than other teams thought we could this year,” she said.

The Setters are not back in competition until October, but they hope the cooperation and teamwork that made the teams successful this season carries over to the next.

“The way I saw the team cheering and rooting for each other in the NE-10 Championship is something I’ve never seen before,” Galarza said. “We all came together for this meet and we didn’t just focus on our own races, but also helping out our teammates and motivating them. I think that’s something we really improved upon going into this championship and I hope we can continue that.”