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Swim team ready to contend with best in WIAC

November 9, 2006

This season, the UW-River Falls men’s and women’s swim teams have a number of experienced veterans returning to help give the Falcons one of their best seasons in recent history.

Head coach Bill Henderson said that every member of the men’s team who could return from last season did, while a majority of the women’s team returned. There was one woman who transferred back home to be with her boyfriend, a second who wanted to be closer to her family and a third who was so homesick that she had to go back home.

“People do what they got to do,” Henderson said.

Even though the team has a number of new faces, coaches and athletes are not worried about how the season is going to play out.

“This year I think our team is looking to move up in the conference to fourth or fifth,” Henderson said. “We can beat Oshkosh on both sides.”

Moving up to fourth would bring the Falcons close to the same level as some of the top teams in the WIAC. UW-Stevens Point, UW-La Crosse and UW-Eau Claire are expected to be tough to contend with at the conference meet.

“We’re looking to win more meets,” women’s captain Tia Felts said. “We’re looking to place really well at conference and work on team building and support each other inside the pool and out.”

The men’s team has many of the same goals as the women.

“I’m looking for a great performance from the whole team as one and a good overall performance at conference,” men’s captain Mike Keyser said.

On Nov. 18, the Falcons squad will attend the conference relays and have the second chance to beat Eau Claire. Also, that will give them a chance to see some of the times of the other teams in the conference. The relays will give the Falcons a chance to see how much depth they have.

The Falcons have been swimming together since captains’ practice began on Sept. 11 and practice with the coach started on Sept. 25. Team chemistry has been good ever since.

“It’s a little tighter than last year,” Henderson said of the chemistry. “It’s just off the charts, it’s so amazing.”

While there are three different times to practice, those who go to the first two still show up at the end of the third practice to bond and eat with their teammates.

“I think this year there is a more positive attitude,” said Felts. “A lot of new teammates and they all click together.”

The fact that the men have all possible returnees is seen as a very positive sign.

“It’s going to be great,” Keyser said. “The returners are sophomores and juniors are a great base.”

He also said that next season, with all the experience, the Falcons squad will be even better and good leadership is in the future.

Coach Henderson has a lot of experience and his leadership will surely help the team achieve all its goals this season.

“He’s a great person and he knows his stuff,” Keyser said. “He has had his own swimming career. He has coached all age groups and it’s been a great experience to swim under him.”

The Falcons opened up the season on Oct. 27 against Macalester.

“Obviously we could have won,” Henderson said. “It was a good, close meet. It was the diving that cost the men.”

Without having divers, the men entered the swimming portion of the competition down 18 points. Henderson also said the women had five events that came down to a second or less.

Last weekend, the Falcons had a duo meet with UW-Eau Claire who is generally one of the top teams in WIAC.

“They were just too much,” Henderson said. “They were a good strong team and we knew to beat them we’d have to have a perfect match.”

Henderson also said, against Eau Claire, he just put people in where he wanted to test them out and see how their times would end up.