By Cam Smith ’21
At the Big East championships in early April, the Providence College Men’s Swimming and Diving Team did something that has not been done since 1985: have swimmers bring home individual championships. After a 36-year wait, the Friars had two swimmers bring home titles in just two days.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Justin Viotto ’22 pulled off a thrilling comeback victory. Trailing after the final turn, Viotto accelerated over the last 50 yards, hunting down Seton Hall University’s Justin Oosterwyk to claim the title. He won by a finger length, finishing just one one-hundredth of a second in front of Oosterwyk.
“I really had no idea,” said Viotto when asked about if he thought he had won when his fingers hit the wall. “The funny thing is that I didn’t know I had won by one one-hundredth until my friend told me about 45 minutes later in the locker room.”
One thing Viotto did know was his game plan going into the race. “With the way that I race, I’m more of a back-half swimmer,” he said. “I knew from the beginning I was probably going to be behind, but after the first 100 I knew that I had a chance.”
In the 100-yard breaststroke, Kevin Hood ’23 captured an impressive championship. Hood never looked back after leading the race at the 50-yard mark, perhaps motivated by the raucous cheers of his teammates.
“I had a good feeling that I could hold on,” said Hood when speaking of his stretch run. “I trusted my training that I would be able to at least stay with the [nearest] guy, or hold on for it, so once I heard the crowd I just tried to get to that wall as fast as I could.”
“When I looked up and saw number one…it was just indescribable,” continued Hood. “Then to hear everyone on the team screaming and going crazy in the stands, it was just an unbelievable feeling.”
Viotto and Hood will return next year to a team that produced strong results in a season shortened by the pandemic. They each spoke to how their team goals center around continuing the squad’s upward trajectory next season, focusing on producing more points across the board at meets.
As far as individual goals, Hood looks forward to defending his 100-yard breaststroke title. “To win it again. That’s the main goal I have personally,” said the sophomore swimmer.
Viotto, in his senior year next year, plans on going out on a high note. “I just want to be able to say I had no regrets in my last season, to be able to give it my all, and hopefully defend the 200-fly title as well.”