New Season Brings New Challenges for ONU Swimming

The 2017 season for Olivet’s Swim and Dive teams has already begun, and with it new challenges have arisen.

On September 9th, the swim and dive teams headed to Lake Mississinewa, IN for the Indiana Wesleyan 5K. The men’s team did not report a score, but the women defeated Indiana Wesleyan University by a score of 19 to 36. They were led by seniors, Allison Zalinski, Deirdre Gerke, and Kristena Poll, and sophomore Ashley Basham. These women took first through fourth place in the race.

Photo by Shania Hall

Since then, the men’s team has had two meets, and the women’s team has had three. On October 6th, they traveled to South Bend, IN, for the Ned Stark Relays, where they faced National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 schools University of Louisville Oakland University and University of Notre Dame. The men’s team finished fourth out of the four teams competing. Their highest-ranking finishes were in the 3×100 butterfly relay, the 3×100 backstroke relay, and the 3×500 freestyle relay. They finished fifth in each of those events. The women’s team did not fare much better. Their best finish was in fifth place, which happened in the 3×100 backstroke relay, the 3×100 breaststroke relay, and 400 medley relay.

“We were rusty,” head swim and dive coach, Scott Teeters said. “I think we have twelve teams on our schedule that are NCAA Division 1, which is twelve more than the rest of the school combined. It’s extremely difficult, but we set it up that way. And we’re blessed that those schools will accept us into those meets.”

“I think we did well,” senior swimmer, Kara DeLong said. “It was a lot of competition—definitely the hardest we’ve had. We had some really good swims from people. I think we’re in pretty good shape for right now. Coach did a good job easing us into it in a strong way.”

This previous weekend, the Tigers traveled to Terre Haute, IN. The men’s team lost to Xavier University, another NCAA Division 1 opponent. They had twelve second-place finishes in the meet, but that was the highest they were able to finish. The women took on Xavier and Indiana State University, two more NCAA Division 1 schools. Although Andrea Vega had a first-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke, they were unable to defeat either opponent.

The Tiger’s slow start to the season might have something to do with the changes to the roster since last year’s season. In addition to graduating four seniors, the men’s team also lost eight non-graduating swimmers and have added four freshmen. The women’s team graduated five seniors and lost one non-graduating swimmer. However, they have added ten freshmen to their team.

“We’re going to rebuild,” Teeters said. “We’re going to compete hard individually, and we’re going to compete well on relays. But we’re not as deep. Our depth is not as strong on the guys’ side. It’s stronger on the girls’ side. There’s no guarantee on trying to repeat [winning the national championship]. But I like what we’ve got going on. This [class] is tough. I would say that the resiliency of the freshmen in this year’s class is as good as any that we’ve had. And that’s their strength—their grit. Both guys and girls.”

“It’s been a different feel on the team this year,” junior swimmer, Austen Marshall says. “But I think that with less swimmers, we’re closer together. Hopefully with that mindset we can continue to encourage each other on.”

Both teams have time off before their next meet on November 4th where they will travel to Malcomb, Illinois to take on Western Illinois University and Valparaiso University. From there, the season will really begin for them.

Featured Photo by Shania Hall

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