W&L swimming looks to the postseason after regular season success

With one more regular season meet, the Generals swim teams are primed for the ODAC Swimming Championship


Captain Todd Echols, ’23, said the seniors have focused on creating a positive team atmosphere to foster success. Photo courtesy of @wluswimming Instagram.

Christian Basnight, Staff Writer

The Washington and Lee University men’s and women’s swimming teams are back in full force, resuming competition for the pivotal winter swing. The reigning Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) champions had a strong start to the 2022-23 season, finishing first at the annual ODAC Relays last October. The men’s and women’s team dominated the meet, winning 17 of 20 events.
Head Coach Kami Gardner believes this early success laid the groundwork for the following season.
“I think jumping out at the ODAC Relays and having a great showing there just kind of set us up for the rest of the fall season,” she said. “Both the training and attitudes were outstanding.”
The Generals carried that momentum into November’s Franklin and Marshall Invitational where the women’s team claimed the top spot while the men’s finished in second place. Gardner says she was incredibly pleased by how well her teams performed.
“We had some lifetime bests at that meet, which we didn’t expect,” she said. “I think that really put us in a great place going into our winter training trip.”

Seniors set an example; first years succeed

Coach Gardner also credits her large group of seniors for providing the experience and leadership necessary for the team’s overall success.
“The seniors have done an outstanding job of mentoring the younger athletes coming in and just setting a great tone and following through the entire season,” she said.
The W&L men’s and women’s swimming programs are currently helmed by a senior leadership group consisting of 14 swimmers, seven men and seven women. Todd Echols, ’23, said he and his fellow captains focused on creating a positive team atmosphere to help maximize the first-year talent.
“We wanted to really create a team environment that was focused on not only helping each other improve in swimming, but helping each other in all aspects of life at W&L,” Echols said. “I hope that we’ve succeeded in that and hope our younger teammates feel the special bond that we feel with this team.”
Echols said the freshman class came in with “a huge amount of potential.”
“They’re absolutely living up to what we were hoping they would do, and they’ve carried this team this season,” Echols said.
Dalton Jobe, ’26, has been named the ODAC Men’s Swimmer of the Week four times this season and leads the conference in the 200m freestyle. Fellow first-years Thomas Denton, ’26, Harrison Cerone, ’26, and Charles Byars, ’26, have also excelled, each winning an individual race in the team’s winter-opener victory over Gettysburg on Jan. 14.
The 20th-ranked Generals women also scored a win over the 21st ranked Gettysburg women’s team with strong performances from juniors Brynn Martinson, ’24 and Sophia Rollo, ’24. Martinson leads the ODAC in the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle events while Rollo holds the fastest conference time in the 200-meter individual medley.

Generals gear up for championships

Gardner commends her team for how well they competed after not competing for nearly two months.
“They stepped up to the plate and really just dominated that Gettysburg meet from top to bottom,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to get the first one out, so I’m really pleased with that.”
The Generals recently routed Randolph-Macon at the Jan. 21 meet, the men’s team winning 197-64 and women’s 160-101. They each hold 5-1 records for the 2022-23 season.
The Generals have one more meet against the Virginia Military Institute before they compete at the ODAC Swimming Championship from Feb. 8-11 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The women’s team has claimed 31 conference titles while the men have won seven.
Last season, seven Washington and Lee swimmers competed at the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships. Gardner hopes to see both her men’s and women’s teams represented on the national stage this year.
“We have a really great opportunity to send a few people, maybe a relay or two, from both sides,” Gardner said. “The men’s team is very young so I think the future holds a little bit more for them, but I think they can get it done this year as well.”