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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Swimming and diving teams close out regular season

By Josh Springer

Coach Bob Pearson has managed Macalester’s swimming and diving teams since 1989. For the past four years, Pearson has been at the helm of a revival of the program. Despite rough stretches throughout the ’80s and ’90s, the teams have rejuvenated their competitive performances in recent years, both individually and more importantly, as a team. The previous two seasons have shown that both teams are consistent in the MIAC standings.

The women’s team placed fourth out of 11 teams at the 2003-2004 conference championship and matched that performance last year. They also set an impressive 13 school records along the way. The men, who have yet to reach the number of athletes the women’s team has attracted, put forth a strong effort to claim sixth out of eight MIAC teams in 2005.

Over the course of this season, the Mac men and women have “consistently progressed as a team and the results are beginning to show,” coach Pearson said. Despite the heavy training regiments and focused preparation for the conference meet as a priority, the team has already experienced a number of standout accomplishments.

Two weeks ago, on Jan. 21st, the women’s team garnered their most notable performance of the season, placing first out of eight teams at the St. Catherine’s Invitational. “After being without some of our best swimmers for various personal and studying aboard reasons during the fall, the team has gotten better each week reunited,” said Pearson. “Together they have formed a team identity, building a commitment to rededicating ourselves to the sport and the team as a whole.”

Heather Lendway ’06, NCAA qualifier and honorable mention All-American, has already qualified provisionally for the national meet this year, a feat that is usually uncommon before the conference championships. “It feels like every time Heather hits the water she breaks another record,” Pearson said. At the Grinnell Invitational, which took place on Jan. 13th and 14th, Lendway won the 1,650 freestyle in a time of 17:47.8, besting her closest competitor by 48 seconds. Her provisional time is also the fastest in the MIAC going into the conference meet.

Currently, Lendway, a six time school record holder, has the MIAC’s fastest times this season in the 1,000 free, the 1,650 free and the 400 IM.

Sjon Swanson ’05, who is in the midst of a sensational final season at Mac, continued the team’s recent tradition of proving that school and pool records are readily attainable. After fighting through years of frustrating injuries, Swanson has been able to surpass his previous bests to produce “team-inspiring results,” according to Pearson.

Last week the teams competed against conference rivals Carleton and Gustavus in separate dual meets. Although both teams came out short on the overall scoreboard, the men and women competed aggressively with two of the conference’s strongest teams. At home in Leonard Natatorium, Swanson broke through with some outstanding performances, earning him school and pool records in both the 200-meter freestyle and 100-freestyle. “I was thrilled to have gone that fast. It’s been great to be able to train this season and avoid injury,” Swanson said. “The team has been really supportive in both training and competition.”

Jared Rudolph ’08 also had a successful meet against Carleton, earning second place finishes in both the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Annie Flanagan ’09 and Alanna Moreza ’07 had solid performances in diving events. Macalester dominated the women’s diving competition as Flanagan placed first in the 1-meter dive as well as second in the 3-meter dive. Moreza claimed second in the 1-meter dive to her teammate.

Now the teams are in the process of uninterrupted preparation for the nearing conference championship. Coach Pearson said the teams will take time to taper, relax and hone technique, so as to be fully refreshed and geared up for the end-of-the-season races. The team will expect big things from both Lendway and Swanson, however, placing strong emphasis on relays and team scores has been a season-long priority of both Pearson and the swimmers and divers.

“Many records have been broken this year as a result of the process of team support and chemistry,” said Pearson referencing again the success of individual swimmers yet simultaneously reemphasizing the importance of team cohesiveness. Both teams enter into the pre-conference training with full and healthy rosters, confidence and excitement. “Everyone is back and ready to race stronger at conference than they have all year long,” George Robbins ’07 said.

The women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams will compete at the MIAC championships at the University of Minnesota campus Feb. 16th through 18th. The women will be looking to claim a fourth place finish or higher, while the men look to improve on their sixth place finish from last year. “It’s going to be up in the air,” said Lendway. “The season has gone really well, and we’ve done all we can to be ready for the championships.”

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