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Swimming set to launch new season

Ben Weideman ’15 and the men’s swimming and diving team hope to recapture the Midwest Conference title this year. Photo by Jun Taek Lee.

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will begin their season tomorrow, Nov. 8. Both teams have outstanding track records in the Midwest Conference (MWC), as the men won 11 consecutive Conference titles until last year and the women clinched 15 of the 16 past Conference crowns. Determined to remain powerhouses in the conference, the Pioneers have been preparing for another fantastic season before making a splash this weekend.

Among the things that need to be checked off before starting a successful season is recruiting. According to head coach Erin Hurley, recruiting is always the key in trying to replace graduation losses. The first-years have had a tough assignment from day one as they will help fill in gaping holes left by last year’s senior class that included talented Michael Brus ’14, Joe Lytle ’14, Sara Hannemann and Callie Eyman Casey ’14.

Once new swimmers began training with the team, getting them to comply with what the team is trying to accomplish in and out of the water is another important step.

“A lot of the freshmen have swam competitively on a club team or high school team before, but it’s a little bit different dynamic on our college team because we try to support one another more often,” said Ian Dixon-Anderson ’17. “In the beginning, it’s not so much about winning all the time, but it’s more about having people get comfortable in the roles that they will swim at Conference. … That correlates to the meets, but we are not solely focused on winning at meets. We are focused on unity as a team.”

Ben Weideman ’15 and the men’s swimming and diving team hope to recapture the Midwest Conference title this year. Photo by Jun Taek Lee.
Ben Weideman ’15 and the men’s swimming and diving team hope to recapture the Midwest Conference title this year. Photo by Jun Taek Lee.

This year, as usual, the teams are taking a cordial approach in welcoming the newest Pioneers. Instilled with the mindset of unity and caring, the first-year swimmers can perform to their fullest potential under the guidance of their leaders and fellow teammates.

“Of course there is competition within your level and ability,” said Hayley Levin ’16. “But, at the end of the day, we are all going to support each other. We are all going to support the highest goal that our team wants to achieve. I think that is really special, and something that I have not seen before in previous teams.”

The cordial atmosphere in the pool does not translate to loose practice, however. The training schedule, designed by Hurley, emphasizes having a quality practice each day. Her method of having a cyclic training session throughout each week allows time for recovery and opportunity for all swimmers to practice a broad range of strokes.

“I think it’s a really good program because when you change up [the practice sets], you don’t focus too narrowly,” Dixon-Anderson said. “But because of this [training method], we can focus on a bunch of different things.”

Through the intense practices, the swimmers are establishing and maintaining a healthier mental and physical stability.

“At the beginning, before the swim season started, I was swimming so slow, and that was so frustrating for me,” Levin said. “But I knew that I had to build up my strength and start doing the dryland programs. … There are all these different steps you have to take in order for you to get back in … shape. And, by the time the season started, I was ready to go.”

With the first meet around the corner, the teams have amped up their training even faster and harder to cater to the swimmers.

“I think the program is moving in a really exciting direction,” Levin said. “It’s really exciting to watch our team getting fast. It’s awesome and it’s cool to watch it as it happens.”

The Pioneers will host Luther College in their first meet tomorrow.

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