By Kylie Roberts
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
The Oxy Aquatic Center at Niagara University was abuzz with excited swimmers and families this past Friday, Oct. 13, for the season opener dual swim meet against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. The Bonnies are a long-time “Little Three” rival of the Purple Eagles.
This, however, was not just any swim meet: This was the first time Niagara University had ever broadcasted swim on ESPN+. It was also the first time a school in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) attempted to stream this type of event.
This makes Niagara one of few schools outside the “Power Five” conferences to attempt a stream of this kind. Schools that have done these kinds of streams on ESPN+ include Harvard University, Brown University, Bucknell University and Boston University, among others.
“This is a stream that really meant a lot to me,” said Michael Loss, a student worker in the ESPN+ program at Niagara University. “To be able to give back to a sport I participated in for years is something I’ll always treasure. This production is definitely the highlight of my time here at Niagara.”
Niagara University has had an in-house ESPN+ program since 2020. The in-house studio is run mostly by students supervised by NU alum Kyle Barker, who produces broadcasts with an occasional fully student-run show.
The in-house program is responsible for broadcasting 13 different sports with eight of those now being on ESPN+ networks at least once. Students staff everything from camera operators to studio crew and even make appearances as game talent such as play-by-play and analysts.
In this dual meet against the Bonnies, the women's team won with a score of 110-95, and the men lost 116.5-87.5. Multiple program records were set, including the women's 100-meter backstroke with a time of 56.55s, and the men’s 100-meter IM with a time of 52.67. These records were set by Natalie Killion and Sean Finley, respectively.
This season, the Purple Eagles are coming off their first-ever women's championship in the 2022 season, and runners-up in 2023 where the men finished third – one of the team’s best finishes since 2016.
The men’s swim team will travel to Ithaca to face Cornell University on Saturday, Oct. 21, for its next meet. The women will travel to Youngstown, Ohio, for their next meet on Sunday, Oct. 29, to face Youngstown State, where the men will also compete.
This is a Niagara University student-created piece completed as part of the course CMS 226A. For more information, contact the Niagara Frontier Publications’ managing editor.