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Swimming and diving face challenges in WIAC

March 26, 2012

The Falcons swimming and diving teams are striving to improve in the competitive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).

Both the men’s and women’s teams finished the 2011-12 season in sixth place, both behind UW-Oshkosh as predicted, according to the UW-River Falls website. Head Coach Ryan Hawke said the team had a very good year.

“We had 20 performances on the top 10 list and three school records were broken,” Hawke said.

Out of the nine WIAC schools, only six of them have swimming and diving teams, making it harder for the Falcons to be more competitive. Hawke says if UWRF competed within the Midwest Conference or the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, they would finish in the top half or middle. “The WIAC is a very tough conference, and we continue to finish in the bottom,” Hawke said.

Senior Justin Arenson said there is at least one team every year from the WIAC that is on the men’s or women’s top 25 nationally ranked teams list. The Falcons are unique in the conference in that they have a smaller team compared to other WIAC schools.

“We have to be prepared to swim back-to-back events to have a chance at beating certain teams. Having a smaller team puts us at a slight disadvantage but that does not mean that we have poor athletes,” Arenson said.

Hawke said he is proud of the close-knit team they are. He said a lot of other teams segregate because of the huge size. “All of our swimmers interact and hang out as a one team, they support each other in the sport and with academics,” Hawke said.

Hawke said recruitment for next year is looking promising with 10 interested males and 10 females. He said recruiting without a pool on campus is not an issue.

He seeks out individuals looking to major in something UWRF offers. The school does a good job selling itself, and has more appealing aspects as a small school in a small town depending on what the students are interested in, Hawke said.

“Another major factor that impacts the continuation and recruiting of swimmers is the team itself. We are closer than ever, and we constantly support each other in and outside of the pool,” Arenson said.

Hawke said that he admits not having a pool on campus does hurt the team personally, in that practice times are inconvenient. The pool used at River Falls High School is a better option than the one previously used at the University, Arenson said.

“The old on-campus pool wasn’t able to support a dive team, the high school pool meets depth regulations and we are able to have a diving program. It also has eight lanes, the old pool only had five lanes,” Arenson said.

The Falcons continue to strive to beat Oshkosh and bring in recruits to be part of the team, Hawke said. The women’s team will be losing three females while the men’s team will lose two.