Swimming and diving return to full strength during break

By Josh Springer

Most Macalester athletes have the option of deciding which semester they would like to study abroad, in order to avoid conflict with their sport’s schedule. This, however, is not the case for the Swimming and Diving teams.With a competitive season that begins in late October and extends through February, a number of athletes were obligated to forfeit part of the season to study overseas. As a result, winter break signifies a time of reunion and a return to full strength for a team previously missing key athletes.

The swimmers and divers began their preparation for the freezing weather by traveling to Maui, Hawaii, for both intensive training sessions and community service work in local neighborhoods. The two-week training trip provided the team a chance to practice for several challenging competitions set in January.

After tough losses to St. Olaf on Jan. 12, both men’s and women’s teams responded with their best all around performances of the season at the Grinnell Invitational.

On the men’s side, Nathan Young ’11 tallied three first place finishes, two of which were school records in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke. Young’s career performance along with key races from Mitch Stepleton ’10, Seth McIntire ’09 and Jeff Yamashita ’11 led the team to a third place finish out of eight teams. In recognition for his impressive results during the invitational, Young was awarded MIAC Swimmer of the Week.

Kiersten Yeazel ’11 and Anna Gajewski ’10 produced strong races in the invitational, leading the women’s team to a 4th place finish out of nine teams. Head Coach Bob Pearson expressed his delight over the team’s performance at Grinnell, emphasizing both growth and unity. “We’ve found our own identity and are now getting the best out of everyone,” Pearson said.

Following standout team performances at Grinnell, both men and women faced conference powerhouse Gustavus Adolphus at a dual meet in St. Peters. While the women saw strong performances in swimming events from Alex Cortes ’09 and Gajewski, as well as in the diving competitions from All-MIAC athlete Annie Flanagan ’09, the team nonetheless fell to the Gusties 143-79.

Young once again came up with a first place finish in the 100 backstroke, the team’s highest placement of the day. The Gustavus men, ranked No. 11 in the nation, defeated the Scots 162-39. Important to note, however, is that the Gustavus men’s roster exceeds Macalester’s by 29 athletes.

Only one day after facing the nationally ranked Gusties, the men’s team competed at the St. Johns Invitational while the women traveled to Concordia-Moorhead for another dual meet. The men’s team missed the first day of the Invitational in order to compete against Gustavus and, as a result, came up short against both St. John’s and Hamline.

The women, on the other hand, had a standout performance against Concordia, beating the Cobbers 157-138. Helping greatly with the team score, Flanagan won both diving competitions. Adding to the team’s success, Kristin Mathson ’08, Sophia Slote ’11, Gajewski and Yeazel all took first place in their respective events. For the women, their victory over Concordia sets a promising tone for the season’s culminating meet.

The team now looks forward to the up-and-coming MIAC Championships scheduled for February 14th, 15th, and 16th at the University of Minnesota.

“We are always looking for improvement and our best times at the conference meet,” Pearson said. With the full team back in Minnesota and performing well before the last meet of the season, Pearson and his athletes are confident heading into conference. Concluding with a hint of his personal coaching philosophy, Pearson said, “most importantly, we need to go into conference knowing we’ll be at our very best.