University of Montevallo: Swimming to success
Published 12:13 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023
By LAUREN SEXTON | Sports Reporter
MONTEVALLO – With the program having only been around for less than half a decade, building up the program as one of the few universities in the state was the main goal for the University of Montevallo’s swim team. However, Will Mahone, one of the founding members of the team achieved a major milestone as he qualified as an individual and competed in the NCAA Division-II National Championship.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Mahone or the Montevallo program. Since the program began in 2019, each year both women’s and men’s teams have grown. With a new program, the team has constantly been setting new standards and expectations for the program that Montevallo head swim coach Aaron Mahaney helped kickstart.
“I previously was at the University of Buffalo,” Mahaney said. “Where they unfortunately cut their program, including my job. Going to find a school that was starting a program was a big passion of mine, especially down here in the south, Alabama. To add more opportunities at the college level, it was a big motivation for me to help continue on and grow the sport of swimming.”
Montevallo is now the fourth collegiate-level swim program in the state along with the University of Alabama, Auburn and Southern Alabama. Within a short period of time, the program became a success. However, the most recent season has been the most impactful season since the beginning.
“We did a really good job,” Mahaney said about the program’s performance. “This season we broke over 60 records. Every school record went down except for the men and women combined. I know it’s to be expected a little bit with a young team, but to have as much of a time drops as we had as a whole team, we did such a great job this year. It was probably one of the most exciting conference meets that I’ve been to. The things that we’ve accomplished in a short amount of time is amazing.”
Since the program had started in 2019, Montevallo like the rest of the world had to overcome the COVID pandemic. Fortunately, the program was able to stay afloat and make big strides in building the Falcon team.
“The fact that after really being in our fourth year and we’re making nationals even through COVID,” Mahoney said about Montevallo’s impressive run. “We kept on getting stronger last year, getting scholastic all American. The fact that last year we had a couple guys make five cuts this year, we’ve basically tripled that amount. Every year we’ve been growing a lot quicker and faster than I anticipated. We have a nice deep conference, it’s competitive and helps us with recruiting. We’re just looking to keep on growing and just let everybody know.”
One of the most impressive experiences to come out of the program’s journey is that founding member and University of Montevallo’s legacy, Mahone, was the first member of the program to qualify for the NCAA Division-II National Championship.
“I definitely do a lot more than I normally do within the past couple of months,” Mahone said about his preparation for the championship. “Eating more salads, drinking a lot of protein shakes and drink water throughout the day.”
For Mahone, being able to qualify for the National Championship would have not been possible without his dedication to the sport. While Montevallo’s program is still relatively young, Mahone has been competitively swimming long before he dove into the Montevallo program.
“I would say to keep with it through high school,” Mahone said about what he would advise younger swimmers if they would like to follow in his footsteps. “Continue to keep winning and find your passion and love for it to get to the college level. You meet people and it’s really fun.”
As of Saturday, March 11 Mahone was named All-American after finishing in eighth place in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:46.21. The University of Montevallo’s team placed 29th overall at D-II Nationals.