Strokes in the right direction

Swimming team looks to overcome adversity in potential-filled season.

Rebecca Higgins, Reporter

Each year the men and women swim teams continue to improve, this year offers new opportunities and challenges for the teams.

“We are improving so much that not only are schools like St. Thomas and Gustavus Adolphus inviting us to their meets but we are also having dual meets against them,” said junior Joe Campbell, a captain on the men’s team.

In the past, the men’s and women’s teams have struggled to compete with St. Thomas and Gustavus Adolphus. St. Thomas and Gustavus Adolphus have won the All-Time MIAC Champions back and forth for the past 16 years. The last time Hamline won this award was in 1978-1979 swim season. Recently the men and women swimming and diving teams have been able to become more competitive with St. Thomas and Gustavus Adolphus. These advancements change the mentality of the teams heading into the season.

The teams hold a positive outlook for this season, regardless of difficulties.

“I know that our team is struggling because our pool just shut down, we’re all really frustrated,” said Kayla Hennum, a captain for the women’s team. “We are trying to stay positive and work towards our goals.”

The main challenge the season presents is the chlorine levels in the pool. These levels have risen so high that they could potentially be fatal to swimmers. The pool was shut down for several weeks and only reopened last Thursday, Oct. 27.

However this difficulty did not discourage the teams from focusing on their goals. Head Coach Ryan Hawke would like to see the women’s team place seventh or eighth in the conference after placing ninth last year. This would mean each team moving up one or two places in the conference, as Coach Hawke’s goal is for the men’s team to be in the top five in the conference. Last year they placed sixth. Goals of moving up in the MIAC are also personal.

“My goal, for myself is to move up in the MIAC. I was sixth last year and this year I want to be fourth,” Hennum said. “I also want to break the one meter pool record.”

Last year, her one meter dive was just 17 points shy of breaking the Hamline record of 396.78.

The men and women swimming and diving team plan on attaining their goals through their practice regimen.

“We work quantitatively harder than the rest of the conference,” Campbell said.

Their practice regimen consists of two and a half hour afternoon practices, five days a week, morning lifting Monday and Wednesday and morning workouts Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Cohesiveness is a big factor in making the men and women teams distinctive.

“The men and women are able to be there to encourage each other and support each other,” Hawke said. “That’s a unique thing within our sport that we don’t see in every sport.”

Combining the men and women teams allow athletes to create a close knit community of swimmers and divers, which in turn has created a positive team atmosphere.

“This year I feel that our team is a lot more cohesive,” Hennum said. “We want to be together. We all want to try our hardest. So I think that will make the whole season in general will be easier.”

Following the example of the returning swimmers and divers dedicating themselves to the sport, the new recruits are able to immediately motivate themselves. This helps the new athletes get off on the right foot right away and put in the work.

“We have a young team,” Campbell said. “We have time to work with our already fast guys and make them better.”

With a young team there is great promise of advancement. The new recruits are coming into this season with a lot of skill and the coaching will only further improve their talents. This provides great promise for this season.

“Within the team, we are seeing a lot of self-confidence with how everyone finished last year,” Hawke said. “It’s holding them to a new standard and coming back more motivated than we saw at the beginning of last year. So I think that the effort level is going to be another notch up there.”

This increase in effort and standard makes for exciting meets, regardless of swimming and diving background.

“Swimming is an accessible sport to watch. You don’t need to know all the rules for swimming to understand who won the race. I think that that’s pretty cool. They [the meets] are lot of fun and the team really enjoys having people in the stands,” Hawke said.

The men and women swimming and diving team invite everyone in the Hamline community to their meets. Their upcoming home meet is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Nov. 5 at Hamline University.