On a mission: women swimmers won't be stopped

By Daniel Kerwin

It’s too early in the season to be worrying about results, but nevertheless, the women’s swimming and diving team can already report some good ones. In the season opening dual meet at Wisconsin-River Falls, Kristin Mathson ’08, Anna Gajewski ’10, Kiersten Yeazel ’11, Kate Vermann ’11 and Sophia Slote ’11 all won individual events.

At the next meet, the Hamline Quadrangular, the team outscored St. Mary’s 128-80 and Augsburg 146-33, but had a losing tally of 90-123 against host Hamline. Katharine Heg ’10 placed first in the 1000-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle, Yeazel won the 100-yard butterfly and was runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke, and Slote and Gajewski swam to second place finishes in their events.

Yeazel has continued to lead the way for the Scots all season, posting impressive finishes in the 200-yard breaststroke. She placed 6th in a large field of competitors at the Cows, Colleges and Contentment Classic in Northfield, 2nd in the St. Catherine Mini-Invitational, 3rd in the St. John’s / St. Benedict Invitational and won the event at the Macalester Invitational. She also finished in a dead heat for first in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Mac Invite.

“It feels pretty good, especially against girls I know I’m swimming against at the end of the year,” Yeazel said of her success so far. “It’s a really good look at the competition, and you know what, it always feels good to win something.”

So far this season Yeazel has posted times that rank in Macalester’s all-time top ten in three different events. Yeazel’s time of 1:06.16 in the 100-yard butterfly ranks 10th all-time, her time of 2:38.67 in the 200-yard breaststroke ranks 9th and her time of 1:12.14 in the 100-yard breaststroke ranks 4th.

The most encouraging sign so far is that the team’s strong results have been spread out over a variety of events. Everyone has been able to make a contribution in their own particular discipline.

“It’s hard to single out individual swimmers,” Head Coach Bob Pearson said. “One of the great things about the sport of swimming is that even the 5th place points count.”

Although the team has a lot of depth, all six juniors on the team are currently studying abroad and have missed the entire season so far. Since all of the team’s divers are juniors, this has meant that the team hasn’t been able to participate in any of the diving events at its meets so far.

“The loss of the divers has been tough to deal with, plus I’ve heard the junior divers are really great girls,” Yeazel said. “It’s called swimming and diving, but diving is such a small sport so their points are added on to the swimming, so we’re automatically behind a few points at meets.”

“It’s tough, it’s harder to put a lineup together,” Pearson said. “They’re all upperclassmen so there’s a big leadership gap there; there’s a jump from sophomores straight to seniors, so it’s a big thing.”

On top of the absence of juniors, the team has had to deal with injuries to Sarah Ellerton ’10 and Hillary Sorin ’10, as well as the illnesses that have spread throughout the team.

These may be handicaps now, but Pearson isn’t worried since the main goal is to be fully prepared for February, when he said he hopes the team will turn some heads at the MIAC Championships.

Maybe the recent Macalester Invitational, held at St. Catherine’s, is a sign of what’s to come. The team placed 3rd out of 8 teams, even without the divers.

“The Mac Invite was big for us, we had fantastic swims across the board there,” Pearson said. “We stepped it up and everyone on the team went out and had their best times of the year.