By Melissa Luby
Two weeks after the start of the semester, the ONU swimming and diving has hit the ground running—or, shall we say, hit the water kicking.
Olivet has only two meets left before the NAIA Swimming and Diving National Championships in Oklahoma City. Since the beginning of the swim season in October, Olivet’s swim team has been competing against NCAA teams in hopes of being podium contenders in Oklahoma City this March.
Head swim coach Scott Teeters says that Olivet’s competitive schedule—including meets against schools like Notre Dame, University of Chicago and Ohio State—will better prepare his team for the championship meet. “They’re much better than NAIA teams,” he said. “We try to be as competitive as we can be. Our swimmers can compete at that level. They don’t doubt their abilities.”
Olivet’s NCAA schedule has not resulted in as many tournament success as it has in swimmers qualifying for nationals. Although NAIA rules allow only 18 entrants from each team at nationals, Teeters said that several more of the team’s 60 swimmers had qualifying times. “Our focus has been on swimming fast, not on winning tournaments,” Teeters said.
The team does, however, have a major asset that other teams do not: A group of dedicated student assistants.
Since Christmas break, Teeters has upped the intensity of his training program. “We get better every year,” he said. “As the swimmers keep improving, they can do more.” Teeters also plans to give his team an edge through the use of tech suits, which can make swimmers significantly faster. “We didn’t have them during the first semester, but we will at nationals,” he said. “All of our qualifying times were made without tech suits.”
Freshman Nationals qualifier Austin Bennett has made changes to his routine as well in preparation for nationals. “I’ve changed my diet by eating more healthy power foods, and I’m trying to get more sleep,” he said. “I’m just going to swim my heart out, do my best, try to hold my own and support the others. And, of course, make Coach happy.”
One area Teeters is hoping to improve is the diving team. Olivet currently has a limited number of divers, most of whom have little diving training. Because Olivet does not have diving facilities, the divers are forced to travel to Kankakee High School to practice. “They try to dive as much as they can, but there is frustration with the lack of practice time available. We work with what we have,” said Teeters. Teeters hopes to be able to recruit more divers, but says that the lack of facilities makes recruitment difficult. A strong diving team is essential to the team’s success at meets: Three divers count as one entry at nationals, where a poor result could cost the team 200 points.
The team does, however, have a major asset that other teams do not: A group of dedicated student assistants, comprised of Samantha Elam, Bradley Adamson, Montana Case, and Jordan Epp. “I’m so blessed and fortunate to have them,” said Teeters. “They motivate me. Any one of them could be a head coach.”
Olivet’s final two meets are on January 30 and 31. The NAIA Championships are March 3-7.