Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are back on schedule after a delayed start to the season.
The teams were in danger of not being able to compete this season, before the hiring of Mike Bollinger as the head coach. Bollinger was hired on Sept. 25, and the teams’ first match was on Oct. 19. That did not give Bollinger much time to get to know his new group.
“There is going to be a little hesitation on both sides because I didn’t know them, and they didn’t know what kind of coach I was,” Bollinger said. “It was a good transition. There was a little bit of trust back and forth. I told the team that I want your trust that I can make you better, and the other way around too.”
Both teams compete in the same matches during the season, although the women’s team has had one more match. Because of this, both teams practice and travel together, something Bollinger said he likes about the group.
“The team definitely has a family atmosphere, which is the way I coached previously. So coming into that really helped,” Bollinger said.
While the season is still young, the women’s team has competed seven times and the men six, Bollinger can already see immense improvements on both teams.
“I worked them really hard Wednesday and Thursday and didn’t give much of a break on Friday. Then we had an invite this weekend (Nov. 16) and even though they were tired and sore, they went in and posted season and lifetime best times,” Bollinger said.
The women’s team currently holds a 1-5 record, plus a third place finish at the Hamline Invitational.
“We might have only won one, but you can tell that we are a lot better than we were last year. The goal is still to beat Oshkosh at conference,” said senior swimmer Abby Dvorak.
While the results may not be there in the win-loss columns, Bollinger said some of the times in the pool are more impressive.
“School record wise, we have a shot at six or seven school records for both individual and relays,” Bollinger said. “I want them to work as hard as they can and see where they are at the end.”
The men’s team is currently 3-2, and also finished in third place at the Hamline Invitational. The men’s team has 16 athletes, but only four are upperclassmen, something junior captain David Zaske said he doesn’t mind.
“It’s kind of expected. That’s how it has been the last couple of years, there are few upperclassmen coming through. Hopefully we can build on it and not be in that position any longer,” Zaske said.
Bollinger added that the captains of the team were picked before he was hired, but said he couldn’t ask for a better group of leaders on both the men’s and women’s side.
“I think on the men’s side the two captains who were picked before I got here were great choices. On the women’s side our two captains have been plagued with injuries, but I’m surprised how much they have worked through them,” Bollinger said. “They have been pushing themselves really hard. Beyond that, everybody has been working really hard.”
Both the men’s and women’s team combined have a little over 30 athletes, a number which Bollinger said makes them one of the smaller team’s in the conference. However, he would like to see the numbers grow in the coming years.
“There are people out there who have swam before who are on this campus, I want them on the team. We would love to get them out and see what this team is all about,” Bollinger said.
Both teams’ next competition will be on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Eau Claire Quadrangular held at UW-Eau Claire.