Pipers swim and dive into future

The Pipers hosted their annual Alumni Meet on Saturday Oct. 11 during Homecoming week to gear up for the new season.

Paul Patane, Reporter

Pipers head coach Ryan Hawke looks to build on last year’s successes and isolate the previous season’s shortcomings as the men’s and women’s swimming and diving program opens the 2014-2015 season.

“Last year was my first year here and we started a program overhaul. This year we want to try and increase our competitive level in the conference,” Hawke said.

Beyond individual competition, Hawke wants to see his student athletes continue to grow together as teammates.

“We’re redefining the team aspect. When I first got here, there wasn’t a unified common goal that we were working toward,” Hawke said.

Senior swimmer and captain Jerry Daniels has seen Hawke’s goal of team building come to fruition.

“We want the men’s and women’s team to compete at a higher level than last year. As long as we continue to grow as a team, we’ll benefit from that,” Daniels said.

Daniels reflected on his previous seasons before Coach Hawke was hired from UW-River Falls to take over for the Pipers.

“My freshman year, we had six guys on the team. Now we have 22. The team’s more invested in the competition and really being a team together. It’s a huge change from my freshman year to the team’s mentality now,” Daniels said.

The team’s growth in size, particularly on the men’s side, has the team excited about what they see as a promising season.

“I had the opportunity to work with the recruits we were bringing in. The freshmen on the team this year all know the direction we want to go in. Everyone that we brought in has a different background. Some have untapped potential and don’t have extensive experience. They’re all dedicated to the team and the sport,” Hawke said.

This offseason, the Pipers trained on being able to perform at peak levels during competition. Women’s sophomore swimmer Maya Rapp has put long hours in-and-out of the pool to endure the long season.

“It’s hard work. I wasn’t used to the long season [last year]. That was the biggest shocker for me, having to train for a long time,” Rapp said.

Rapp has a better understanding of what to expect as she enters her second season of collegiate swimming. Beyond being in the pool, she’s taken steps to be in better overall condition.

“I ran a marathon in June and went to the weight room,” Rapp said.

Daniels also kept up with his offseason training and conditioning.

“I spent a lot of time staying fit over the summer and staying in the pool as much as I could,” Daniels said.

As a team captain, Daniels makes it a point-of-emphasis to be a good leader for his younger teammates.

“As one of two seniors on the team, you feel like you’ve got knowledge to give. If they ask for advice on something, I give my input on it. If they ask for anything, I’m there for them,” Daniels said.

The Pipers finished the 2013-2014 season at the MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships in Minneapolis with the men’s team finishing sixth and the women’s team finishing tenth. The team is committed to improving upon last year’s finish.

“We have some high goals. We really have to work hard to be able to push to make those goals a reality,” Hawke said.

Rapp has both individual and team goals she’s focusing on.

“I really hope to break a minute in the 100 Butterfly this year. Also, we have a really strong relay team,” Rapp said.

Daniels emphasizes individual goals being important, but not allowing them to overshadow team goals.

“When we reach those individual goals, that’s something we need to celebrate, but our team goals are more important to us,” Daniels said.

Results remain to be seen, but optimism runs high as the Pipers race and dive into the future.

“I’m excited for the season. I’ve been a swimmer all my life. I love the team atmosphere. That was a major reason I wanted to swim,” Rapp said.

The Pipers compete at the Augsburg Pentathlon at St. Catherine’s on Saturday Oct. 18. They open their home season at Bush Pool on Saturday Nov. 8 against St. Thomas, Macalester, St. John’s, Carroll and St. Mary’s at the Hamline Invite.