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Swim team prepares for upcoming WIAC Championships

February 10, 2011

The UWRF swim team is looking to use a season of preparation to prepare for their biggest meet this season.

The UW-River Falls swim team is in good shape and ready for the WIAC championships, said head coach Ryan Hawke.

Hawke, who took over the team last season on an interim basis said that the swimmers have all made drastic personal improvements over the course of the season.

“Everyone has either made or passed the times that they were at last year,” Hawke said. “So I think everyone is pretty happy.”

Hawke said that swimming, unlike other sports, is something that gradually improves over the course of a season, leading him to believe the Falcons are in great shape for the WIAC championships.

“Swimming is a little bit different than most sports,” Hawke said. “Sports like football, when you start the season out you are in the best shape you are going to be in, with swimming you actually raise up.”

Competing against teams such as UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point, both of which have larger teams, leaves UWRF fighting for their place in the upcoming tournament.

Hawke stressed that while the team is looking good, there is simply no way to compete against teams that have several more swimmers to choose from.

“With the size of our team, there are teams that we won’t even be able to reach,” Hawke said. “I am hoping that we can come closer to [UW]-Whitewater and [UW]-Oshkosh this year.”

While the Falcon team may have its difficulties placing well at the meet, Hawke said that the individual performances are something to keep an eye on.

“Individually, I have no doubt that we will do really well,” Hawke said. “If you look at individual swims from last year to this year, I have no doubt that everyone will do very well.”

Senior captain Kevin O’Brien is one swimmer to keep a special watch over, Hawke said.

“It’s his senior year here, so I want to see if he can make a national cut in the 100 [butterfly],” Hawke said. “He currently has the 100 butterfly record at this school.”

Hawke commented that the team has had its struggles this season due to a number of factors, several of which he puts on his own shoulders.

“Going into a season changing the coaching philosophy within a team is something that is going to lead to a lot of internal struggle,” Hawke said.

The internal struggles Hawke referred to were things such as practice times, length and intensity. He said that these things only benefited the team.

“I changed the practice requirements,” Hawke said. “I feel like I increased the intensity of the practices quite a bit, especially from the reports I have heard about last season, but with hard work comes mixed feelings.”

The Falcons head into the WIAC Championships 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, at Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer, Wis.