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Swimming and diving anticipate close finish

December 16, 2011

The Falcon men’s and women’s swimming and diving team have had a competitive season and are anticipating a close finish, Head Coach Ryan Hawke said.

In the WIAC there are only six schools out of nine with swimming and diving teams. The WIAC is competitive in all aspects and it’s hard to beat out more teams when there aren’t as many competing. Hawke said there is strong competition between the six teams that do compete: UW-Eau Claire, UWLacrosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater.

“Out of the six teams, five of them sent people to nationals and three of those teams finished in the top 15 at nationals,” Hawke said.

The Falcon men’s and women’s teams both finished last in the conference last year. Earlier this season, the women’s team beat Oshkosh in a dual meet, and the men’s scores were close, Hawke said.

Hawke does not have captains for the team, instead he asked for the upperclassmen to step up and move to where they excel. Hawke also talked about how every individual on the team plays a role and there are no key athletes that the team is depending on. He said from last year to this year that the team is working a lot harder, and is more dedicated and that’s making a big difference.

Junior Sarah Koch said the team works hard every day to improve individually and to work together as a team. “Everyday we strive to be our best as a team, we push one another to reach our full potential,” said Koch. “One of our teams goals this year is to beat Oshkosh at the WIAC tourney, earlier this year the women’s team was able to pull of a win against them and this is the first time in 16 years that the women’s team has beat them.”

The Falcon’s swim team was on the verge of being cut in 2009. The team continued to practice and compete and traveled to the River Falls High School to use their pool for practice. Hawke admitted since then that it is a challenge to recruit without having an on-campus pool, but it is within a mile walk of campus and the facility is nice. Koch said there has been a decrease of numbers because of class scheduling and the inconvenience of location, but teammates continue to carpool.

Junior Isaac Milkey said if UWRF had their own pool, practice times would be more flexible. But even without a pool, the men’s and women’s team has nine freshmen.

“We have a lot of freshmen that joined this year. We are really looking to build up our program and reputation as not only a good school, but also a good team,” Milkey said. “The freshman are very dedicated and I think that comes partially from our upperclassmen being disciplined and working hard.”

Hawke said that the team upped their recruiting efforts and expectations and are working on having a sense of ownership and pride of the team, even without their own pool.

“We are trying to be more active in the community, make our presence known and make a bigger name for ourselves, to see school pride through our sport,” Hawke said.”

The Falcon men’s and women’s swimming and diving team hosted their Falcon Invitational on Dec. 2 and 3 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. The women’s team travels to UM-Morris Jan. 14 and the men’s team competes at Macalaster College Jan. 16.