Women's swimming & diving season preview

By Jakob Wartman

After finishing off one of the best seasons in Macalester history, the women’s swim team looks to be one of the elite teams in the highly competitive MIAC this year. Last year the team finished fourth in the MIAC for the third year in a row, by no means an easy feat in a conference with five nationally ranked teams. The team eventually closed out the season ranked 13th nationally in the dual meet rankings.

This year the team will start the season with most of the junior class studying abroad. These individuals will be back early next semester for the toughest part of the schedule, including dual meets against St. Olaf, Carleton, Gustavus, and the MIAC championship.

Counting the swimmers abroad, Macalester looks as strong as ever. The team will eventually return most of a lineup that rewrote the record books last year with 12 school records. In addition to these veteran returnees, the Scots look to receive strong performances from several newcomers.

Macalester opened the season on Nov. 4 with a 126-114 victory over Hamline. The Scots got seven first-place finishes, but the meet came down to the 400-yard freestyle relay, which Macalester won by 14 seconds.

Since then Macalester has gone 2-1, with wins over Concordia-Moorhead and Wisconsin-River Falls and a loss against St. Thomas (last season’s ninth place MIAC finisher).

Coach Bob Pearson said he does not read too much into these early season dual meets. “Being 3-1 is great, but duals and invitationals are all just rehearsals for the big show, conference,” Pearson said. “I am much more concerned with how we are developing and finding the best events for each swimmer and the team.”

“There are question marks all over the conference,” Pearson said. “If everything goes right we can get third, with that being said we could just as easily finish sixth.”

Heather Lendway ’06, All-American in the 1650-yard freestyle and conference champion in the 500-yard freestyle and the 1650-yard freestyle, looks to close out her senior season by establishing herself as a dominant MIAC swimmer and possibly the best swimmer Macalester has ever produced.

“Heather needs to take what she’s done to another level,” Pearson said. “She’s done that every year and appears to be coming along nicely.”

Lendway is currently the holder of 13 school records (both short course yards and meters) ranging from the 200-yard backstroke to the 1650-yard freestyle.

The team will also be shortly adding (after their semesters abroad) All-MIAC breaststroker Nancy Taff ’07 and diver Alanna Mozena ’07, who provisionally qualified for the one- and three- meter diving last year. Jackie DeLuca ’07, the school record holder in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle and Kristin Meadows ’07, the school record holder in the 100 and 200-yard butterfly, round out the quartet of juniors abroad this fall.

“The juniors coming back will have to be major contributors if we are going to make a run at third place this season,” Pearson said.

The team also returns Kristin Mathson ’08, who scored at the conference meet in both the 400-yard individual medley and the 200-yard backstroke. Another sophomore who looks to have an impact is Katherine Kelly, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin who brings with her butterfly times that could put her at the top of the MIAC.

New faces for the Scots include Minnesotans Angie Marvin ’09 and Annika Johnson ’09 who hope to add more depth to the freestyle events. Another new face is Alexandra Cortes ’09, who posted times in high school in the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke that would be among the top times ever at Macalester.

“The first-years have really been able to get in and help us fill events,” Pearson said. That’s critical because to remain competitive in early season duals Macalester needs the newcomers to take over the spots left vacant by the missing junior class.

The Scots continue their schedule this Friday with a home meet against St. Mary’s and begin their invitational schedule by hosting the Macalester Invitational on Saturday.