After weeks of training, the Lawrence University Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams were back in action. They kicked off their 2016-2017 at the All-Wisconsin Showcase in Brown Deer, Wisconsin on Saturday. This meet featured competition from across the state including the Division I program of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Because this meet featured some very stiff competition, the approach the team took was very different than the approach of some of their meets later in the season. Senior Paige Witter explained the team’s mindset: “I think especially because it’s the first meet of the season you go into it thinking about it in individual terms just kind of to see where you’re at instead of oh we’re here to win the meet because there are D-I, D-II teams. But, if we go into it thinking of it as a meet that’s just to see where we’re at, to see where we’re at as a team and individually then you get a lot out of it and I think we did get a lot out of it.”
The Swim Teams turned in some strong performances, especially for this early in the season. The women’s team was led by solid relays as the 400-yard freestyle relay of sophomore Lizzy Garcia-Creighton, junior Eryn Blagg, junior Emei Thompson and freshman Bridget Duero took seventh place in 3:54.68. The women’s 200-yard medley relay of senior Danielle Millin, sophomore Emmi Zheng, Witter and Duero was another good performance for the team, taking home eighth-place with a time of 1:57.72.
The Lady Vikes also fared well in many of the individual events. The team was led by the duo of Witter and Thompson as Witter took 10th in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:21.99 and Thompson was also 10th in the 500-yard freestyle, completing the race in just 5:38.84. Freshman Elsie Riggle finished right behind her teammate Thompson in 500 freestyle with a time of 5:38.91 good enough for 11th place. Millin also had a strong showing in the grueling 400 IM, taking 11th place in a time of 5:09.29.
On the men’s side, their relays also had a strong showing in the first competition of the season. The 200-yard medley relay of sophomore Max Stahl, freshman Tom Goldberg, freshman Liam Wulfman, and senior Christian Bell took eighth with a time of 1:45.52. The 400-yard freestyle relay of Bell, freshman Jakob Struble, junior Travis Charlow, and junior Shumangu Feng took ninth in a time of 3:51.03. In individual competition, the Vikings were led by sophomore Jordan Spalding who took 17th in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:26.47. Stahl also swam well taking 21st in the 100-yard backstroke completing the race in a quick 59.10 seconds.
While it may not be obvious looking at the results, there were many positives to take away from the meet. “I think we are in a really good place for the beginning of the season, people had faster swims, people who swam last year in the same meet had faster swims, a lot of them, and then the freshman did really well as well” said Witter. She added, “I think our coach [Andrew Fleek] was really, really impressed as well.”
This is still very early in the season for the swim team as their conference meet, the culmination of the season. is still about four months away in February. The swimmers are still very much in heavy training mode with practice twice a day and they are accumulating miles and miles of yards swam in the pool. While there were many promising moments on Saturday, the team knows that there is still a lot more to come. The team has set lofty goals for the season. “For the Women’s [Team], we would like to get second at conference; we got third last year and we were really really close and we’ve gotten some really good new swimmers and a lot returning swimmers” expressed Witter. The Men’s Team is also aiming for a higher place at the conference meet as they have “grown, both in terms of size and in terms of ability, from last year” according to Witter.
The road to reaching their goals at the conference meet is a long one. It continues on Oct. 29, as the Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams are back in competition as they host Ripon at 1 p.m. at the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center in a dual meet.