Swimming and diving teams off to strong start
Improvement is the word being tossed around both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at the midway point of the season.
“A lot of people have been swimming really great for this point in the season, which is exciting for what’s to come,” WSU sophomore Marisa Melchior said.
Each team opened the season with three wins, as the men defeated Saint Louis, Evansville and Horizon League foe Valparaiso, while the women defeated Butler, Saint Louis and Valparaiso.
Most recently, they competed at the Miami Invitational, where both teams finished sixth.
WSU senior Eric Ahlden attributes the improvement on the men’s side to more depth on the roster than in years past.
“We have a lot of freshmen and a transfer this year, so our numbers are up and [we] have been able to compete with the other teams in the conference this year more so than in years past,” Ahlden said.
Ahlden also attributes the team’s success to the addition of diver Nathan Meyer. The men’s team had no diver last season which meant the Raiders had to forfeit all the diving points at each meet, making victories virtually impossible.
“Nathan helps significantly,” Ahlden said. “Last year going into meets, we started 32 points down. With the addition of Nathan, we don’t have to concede the points and he gives us a chance to win against teams we couldn’t last year.”
On the women’s side, the Raiders hope the team’s improvement carries over to the Horizon League Championships, which begin Feb. 27.
“I think we are a lot more confident and we did great job practicing the past three months, and now we just have to train hard for conference,” WSU senior Justyna Hampel said.
Winning conference championships is something the WSU swimming and diving programs know all about. The men’s team has five Horizon League titles (most recently in 2008), while the women had a string of three championships in a row from 2002-04.
Out of the six remaining meets before the conference championships, only one is a home meet for the Raiders, which means the teams are spending plenty of time away from their homes and the classroom. But all the remaining meets take place in Ohio, which cuts down on travel time.
“I have a lot of homework,” WSU senior Makenzie Weldon said. “We get tired, but we know that conference is coming up so we just do what we have to do to make it through.”
“Everyone has done well getting things in on time and getting their study table hours in,” Ahlden said. “Performance-wise it gets a little tiring, but we have gotten used to it.”
The seniors will be recognized at their final home competition against Cincinnati on Feb. 9.
“I cannot wait.” Weldon said. “It will be my last home meet with all my best friends and family.”
“I’m excited, but it’s a little bittersweet because I don’t know if I’m ready to be done with swimming forever,” Hampel said.