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STANISLAWSKA HELPS TO BUILD A DYNASTY AT UMBC
Swimming and Diving Head Coach Chad Cradock has quietly built a dynasty at UMBC. Cradock’s teams have dominated three conferences during his four-year tenure at his alma mater. This season, he has seen the men’s team go undefeated in the regular season at 10-0 and win the America East Championship for the second year in a row, while the women have finished second and third in back-to-back years in the tough America East conference. During those two years, the Retriever women have been led by sophomore Agnieszka Stanislawska.
Hailing from the small town of
“We knew by her times that she was an outstanding swimmer,” Cradock says. “The easy part of our recruiting compared to some other sports is that we get to look straight at the stats and see if the individual is strong and where they can fit in on our team.”
The soft spoken Stanislawska did not disappoint Cradock upon her arrival on campus. She won the gold as well as set new school records in the 200 individual medley, 100 and 200 freestyle events as a freshman at last year’s America East Championships. Stanislawska put together an impressive freshman season, placing first in the 100 and 200 freestyle events six times. She was named the women’s Performer of the Meet for her impressive display at the conference championships.
“The most difficult adjustment I had to make was to school and all the classes, just understanding everything around me,” says Stanislawska. “Swimming was the easy part.”
Stanislawska had been used to three-member swimming teams back home but UMBC’s team boasts over 40 swimmers. With a larger team to work with, Stanislawska believes that her training improved from previous years.
“Everyone is really close,” says freshman Katrina Hubbard. “It's a team thing, if one swimmer is not doing so well, then everyone needs to help them so that the team can move forward as one. It's not an individual thing at all since everyone’s performance matters to the team as a whole.”
That group mentality has helped to create a family atmosphere for Cradock’s squad. With motto of teamwork being stressed, swimmers like Stanislawska benefit by being able to easily adjust to their new surroundings. This season’s team had 12 foreign members.
“Swimmers in general are really close because of the time they spend training together,” Cradock points out. “This team happens to be really close; they do everything together which makes it a unified group. We recruit good individuals that will mesh well together and the more they are together as a team the better opportunities we have for success.”
The cohesiveness of his teams has paid off for Cradock. Under his direction, the men’s team has extended its streak of winning league titles to eight. While the women have not yet equaled the success of their counterparts, they are continually improving their times thanks in large part to Stanislawska.
Stanislawska’s stellar freshman season did not affect the unassuming swimmer’s attitude. She remains among the team’s most modest members. Her sophomore effort has seen the former ballerina make more waves as a top flight performer in the 100 and 200 yard freestyle as well as the 200 yard individual medley events. After a slow start to the season, Stanislawska stepped her game up to help the Retrievers finish strong, as they completed the regular season on a four game winning streak. She garnered two straight East Women's Swimming Performer of the Week awards to close out the regular season.
“Agnes had a rough start to the year,” Cradock says. “She wasn't really prepared for the season but the she trained hard and she worked her way out of what I would call a hole. Tough people tend to be able to do that.”
Cradock adds that in the future, he fully expects Stanislawska to train harder during the off-season and come in ready to start the year strong.
Stanislawska’s time of 1:54.25 against Johns Hopkins in the 200 yard freestyle was tops among women in the America East. Against Marist, she swam a 2:08.81 in the 200 yard individual medley, good enough for the second best time in the America East for the season. Stanislawska also had the second best conference time in the 100 yard breaststroke at a clip of 1:06.17 against Johns Hopkins. For the season, her best times were in the America East top 10 in a total of seven events. In addition to the 200 freestyle, 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, Stanislawska ranked 3rd in the 200 yard breaststroke, 5th in the 200 yard backstroke and 7th in the 100 and 500 yard freestyle events.
“Agnes always comes to practice,” says former teammate Astrid Sperling. “She comes into practice even if she is sick. When the team has a day off and they have the option of coming in or not Agnes still comes to the pool.”
“Many of the European athletes learn about good work ethic,” Cradock adds. “They haven't been handed a lot of things so they have to work hard for everything that they get and they appreciate the little things more such.”
While Stanislawska was unable repeat her amazing 2004 conference championships performance this year, she still managed to lead the Retrievers to a strong showing. The women’s team landed in 3rd place behind
Stanislawska will look to start next season on a high note and continue her success through the conference championships. With eight newcomers, the women’s team is destined to improve on this season’s record. Cradock’s ability to recruit talent like Stanislawska and create a strong team mentality should keep UMBC’s swimming and diving dynasty going strong for years to come.