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Swim team grows together over season despite challenges

February 19, 2010

The UW-River Falls swim and dive team overcame several challenges this season, but prevailed by making many improvements. After a season filled with changes and turmoil, the team finished off their season last weekend with both men’s and women’s teams placing sixth at the WIAC Championships at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. The team had an uneasy season, having no on-campus pool and facing possible termination.

The men’s team had their first winning season in ten years, according to Coach Bill Henderson.

The Women’s team continues to grow and improve and has more depth this year, according to freshman Darian Kaiser.

Despite the changes and challenges this season, the UWRF swim and dive team managed to make the best of it. The decision to move to the high school pool was a blessing in disguise, because it’s a superior facility, according to Coach Henderson. There was also a lot more space for practice, according to junior Ranndi Tutor.

“We went from having five or six people in a lane at Karges, to having two or three at the high school,” Tutor said.

As for the challenge of dealing with the threat of termination for a large part of the season, things were not quite as positive.

“Dealing with the threat of suspension was a big emotional drain and a stressful time,” Henderson said.

But even the horrible situation had some positive results, according to Knight.

“We acted like a family,” Knight said. “There was high tension, but when it was all over and the decision was made, the team was so much closer.”

Throughout the season, the team had many outstanding individual performances by newcomers and veterans alike. The freshman class was led by Hannah Wiseman and Mars Delgado for the women’s and men’s teams respectively, while veterans Knight, Alyssa Adair, and Kevin O’Brien led with great season performances.

Wiseman started out the season winning three events at the St. Mary’s University Meet in October: the 50 free, the 100 free and the 100 backstroke. She continued to have great performances throughout the season. At the dual meet at Macalester, she won the 1,000 free in 11:31.5, which is the fourth fastest in school history. She also placed second in the 100 back in 1:05.81, and third in the 200 back in 2:26.11. Wiseman was also the 400 free relay team’s leadoff swimmer and helped the team to a first place finish in 4:03.24. Wiseman finished up the season with an eighth place finish in the 1,650 free in 18:17.62, the third best all-time at UWRF.

Delgado won the 100 free, and the 50 free in to start off the season at the St.Mary’s meet. He had several strong performances throughout the season, winning the 100 free in 51.34 and the 50 free in 22.97 to defeat Lawrence University in November.

Two other outstanding swimmers for the women’s team are captains Adair and Knight. Adair helped lead the Falcons to a 120-75 win over Lawrence University, winning two events in the meet. Knight had three strong races for the Falcons in the team’s dual meet at UWEau Claire ,winning the 100 breaststroke and finishing fifth in the 1,000. She was also a member of the first place winning 400 medley relay team and was chosen for the WIAC All-Sportsmanship team.

O’Brien finished off his last season with some phenomenal performances. He set the record in the 100 fly and finished first with a time of 54.2. He also won the 200 IM in 2:11.44 and the 50 fly in 24.77. O’Brien, 5-10, was also part of the 200 medley relay team that placed first in 1:45.75. He continued to break his own school record in the 100 fly and placed in all three individual events he competed in at the Falcon Invitational. O’Brien finished fourth in the 100 fly and set the school record with a time of 53.18. He was also named WIAC swimmer of the week for the week of the Macalester meet. He finished off the season leading the men with a seventh place finish in the 200 fly at the WIAC meet. He finished in 2:03.35, which is the second fastest alltime at UWRF.

The team enjoyed spending the last weekend of the season together at the WIAC meet. It was three full days of swimming and a lot of fun, according to Knight. It was a continuous cycle of swim, eat, and sleep, according to Tutor and Knight.

The team overcame many challenges and continues to grow and improve from season to season, according to Henderson.

“Considering all the anxiety and tough times the team went through with the athletic director’s recommended suspension, I think the season went very well. The men had their first winning season in ten years and the women had their third winning season in a row,” Henderson said. “We are working toward moving up the ladder in the conference and with the returning members of the team and the incoming recruits we should be much stronger next year. We’ll see what happens.”