For the second consecutive year, hundreds of people gathered in Howard’s Burr gymnasium to watch the exhilarating competition between the Bison and the Georgetown Hoyas.
This dual swim meet was a one-of-a-kind competition and an energetic experience for the crowd. Like the previous year, the meet was sold out and packed with people of all ages coming together to see the action in person. The Hoyas were victorious in the meet on both the men’s and women’s sides.
The swim meet titled Battle at the Burr, made its first appearance at Howard last year. This competition showcased the skills of both the Bison and Hoyas while gathering people together for an event with upbeat music and undying energy.
When asked what sparked the idea of Battle at The Burr, Nicholas Askew, the head coach of the men’s and women’s teams and director of the program, said, “It honestly came from continuing to build more to our program.” Askew elaborated on this statement saying, “For us to be the only HBCU in all of college swimming and diving, it’s so important that we be that representation.”
Upon walking into the event, fans were immediately submerged in the atmosphere of an HBCU swim meet. That experience included the upbeat music colliding with the voices of several conversations taking place, as the warm and moist air lifted from the pool and surrounded the room.
Before the start of the meet, spectators moved their attention to the wall in front of the pool to see the men’s swimming and diving banner for the 2023 Northeast Conference Championship unveiled. Also being unveiled, were the records that were set the previous season.
“Watching the banner get unveiled before the meet was a great feeling, just once again making me excited to go into another season with the hopes of adding another banner to the collection,” said Ty Triche, a sophomore biology major and chemistry minor from Humble, Texas. He further expressed, “I was also happy to watch one of our graduate students on the team, Arion, unveil it because his class and the classes before him put in so much work to help build the program to the point that we’re at now.”
Throughout the competition, the entire audience was on the edge of their seats watching each event take place. The nerves intensified during the relay events, where multiple times the Bison and Hoyas were neck and neck as they reached the wall to finish their races. The Bison fought hard but ultimately fell short. The final score was 99-125 on the men’s side, favoring Georgetown. On the women’s side, the score was 97-127.
“The outcome of the meet wasn’t exactly what the men’s or women’s team wanted but we had incredible swims that made up for it and I’m really looking forward to the next meet,” said Isabella Fountain, a senior sports medicine major, psychology minor from White Plains, New York.
Even though the teams lost, their performances in their events showcased exceptional technique and talent. The Bison that won events at the meet were Chanice Posada, Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson, Zuilda Nwaeze, Isabella Fountain (200-yard medley relay), Tristan Stevens, Mark-Anthony Thompson, Taj Benton, Arion Solomon (200-yard medley relay), Nwaeze (200-yard freestyle), Mason Green (200-yard freestyle), Fountain (50-yard freestyle), Thompson (200-yard individual medley), Benton (100-yard butterfly), Stevens (100-yard Backstroke), Jasmine Morgan, Summer McKoy, Isabella Fountain, Kelsey Roberson (200-yard freestyle relay) and Solomon, Miles, Benton, Stevens (200-yard freestyle relay).
The event concluded with both teams high-fiving and congratulating each other. It wouldn’t be a Howard event without the presence of the song Swag Surfin’. As the song began the teams locked arms with their teammates and soon closed the gap and locked arms with each other; the audience followed their lead and interlocked arms in the stands as well. As the room danced, smiles could be seen throughout the audience and teams after the friendly competition.
The Bison chose to take the performance at the meet as a stepping stone for the rest of their season; accepting the loss and learning from the experience.
“We know obstacles are going to come our way; that’s life, but we’re willing to embrace it,” said Askew.
Despite the swim meet not going the way the team envisioned, it was an event that was entertaining to watch and special to experience. The Bison won’t let this loss destroy their confidence and have plans made for the matchup in the future.
“We feel good about our chances to come back next year,” said Askew. “The invitation has already been made; Battle at the Burr III.”
Copy edited by Alana Matthew