The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Macalester swim and dive takes home MIAC recognition

Izzy Uhlhorn-Thornton ’26 logged first-place finishes in the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke races at MIACs this week.  Photo by Eleanor Lazaroff ’27. 

On Wednesday Feb. 14, a few dozen members of the Macalester men’s and women’s swim and dive teams loaded onto a bus to make their way over to the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. Here, they would fill their hours competing in the MIAC Swimming and Diving Championship for the next four days and cheering for each other during preliminary sessions in the morning and finals sessions in the evenings. 

The Macalester College Scots started the meet off strong on Wednesday in the men’s and women’s 200-yard medley relays. The women’s relay team – consisting of Verity Wray-Raabolle ’25, Izzy Uhlhorn-Thornton ’26, Olga Merkadeau ’25 and Jocelyn Radke ’24 – placed second, lowering the school record and finishing less than half a second behind the Gustavus Adolphus College A-team. The men’s relay team of Casey Meretta ’26, Will St. John ’26, Isaac Kisker ’25 and TJ Palli ’26 placed fourth. 

Next up, both the women’s and men’s 800-yard freestyle relays beat the previous school records, the men’s placing fourth with William Haby ’27, Charles Batsaikhan ’25, Thomas Moore ’27 and Palli. The women’s team relay of Emma Henry ’26, Natalie Pollock ’25, Skye Schmit ’26 and Hannah Zurn ’26 placed first, earning the title of MIAC champions in the event.

Thursday was another successful day for the Scots. In the individual events, Schmit placed first in the 500-yard freestyle and Moore placed third in the 200-yard individual medley. In the team events, Wray Raabolle, Uhlhorn-Thorton, Radke and Henry placed second in the women’s 400-yard medley relay, lowering the school record.

In Friday’s 100-yard butterfly, Radke placed second and Henry placed third. Schmit and Uhlhorn Thornton both walked away with first place finishes; Schmit won the women’s 200-yard freestyle and Uhlhorn-Thornton the 100-yard breastroke. In the-100 yard butterfly Radke and Henry finished second and third respectively, and in the 100-yard backstroke Wray Raabolle finished second.

Undoubtedly, it was a successful day of swimming for the Scots, and by the beginning of Saturday, the women’s team held second place in the overall tally for the meet, tailing the Gusties by two and a half points.

For the final day of competition, the team was undoubtedly exhausted, but that didn’t slow them down. They claimed three first-place spots, Schmit with the 1650-yard freestyle and Uhlhorn Thornton and Batsaikhan each in the 200-yard breaststroke. Batsaikhan was the first swimmer in the men’s program to win a MIAC title in seven years.

“I was really surprised I had dropped over 2 seconds,” Batsaikhan said. “[I’m also] very happy for my teammate Will St. John, who got third [in the 200-yard breaststroke.]”

This sportsmanship is a big part of the culture for Macalester’s swim and dive teams, the attitudes and actions on the team strengthening the program and individuals within it.

“Our team is really supportive,” Uhlhorn-Thornton said. “You could come in last place and they’re still going to be there for you. They just want you to do well.”

The day featured the same success the Scots had experienced all week. Haby, Radke, Zurn and Henry all earned second place in their races; Haby in the 1650 yard freestyle, Henry in the 200-yard backstroke, Radke in the 100-yard freestyle and Zurn in the 200-yard butterfly with a new school record.

In the end, Macalester women’s swim and dive came out in third place, behind St. Catherine University and Gustavus for the second year in a row. The men’s team placed fifth, just 30 points behind St. Olaf College. 

Charles Batsaikhan ’25 earned a MIAC title in the 200 yard breaststroke. Photo by Ava Cherry ’27.

 Kyllian Griffin, head coach of both the men’s and the women’s team, emphasized these victories are both absolutely worth celebrating. 

“We were competing against the best of them,” Griffin said. “But I think we are starting to get comfortable with how competitive we are, and not losing sight of the fact that if we’re going to spend all our time doing this, we should do it with people we like doing it with. Winning a conference championship is not about being better than all the other schools, it’s about proving to ourselves that we’re the best at what we do.” 

Griffin not only led his team to a third place finish but also received the MIAC women’s Coach of the Year award. This year marks his second in a row earning this recognition, and its significance is not lost on him, even in the excitement of the evening. 

“My name will be on it, but it really is a coaching staff of the year award,” Griffin said. “It’s exciting; I mean for me, it’s reflective of us doing the best job that we can. I’m really proud of our team, and who we are, and what we’ve been able to accomplish. For our professional staff to get recognized for the work that we’ve done is really exciting.” 

The MIAC named Schmit the Women’s Co-Swimmer of the Year alongside Emma Svendsen, a St. Kate’s swimmer, marking the second time a Mac swimmer has won the award. This honor highlighted her achievements at 

MIACs, where she placed first in three individual races, placed first in one relay race and swam season bests in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.

The honor also recognized her successful season in its entirety. Amongst many individual wins, she also attained a new personal best in the 100-yard freestyle.

Throughout the meet, regardless of a race’s outcome, team spirit was apparent from the stands. Orange bucket hats, dancing, screaming — every Scot swimmer could feel the support from their teammates from the pool deck.

“I think we did a great job of balancing seriousness with just enjoying it all and being proud of who we are,” Griffin said. “If you were at MIACs, you saw, they’re a goofy group of people, there’s a lot of dancing and cheering, and I think that’s something that makes us a little different. [It] certainly makes our group special.”

“I told them on the way there … the expectations are the same as they were in the beginning: you put everything you can into your swim, you give them everything you’ve got and you lean on your teammates afterwards and cheer for each other,” Griffin continued. “You bring as much energy as you can and be the team that has the most fun.”

Uhlhorn-Thorn agreed with this sentiment, emphasizing the joy that is present for every swimmer up and down the roster.

“We put music on during practice, we sing during practice, everybody is just here to have fun,” Uhlhorn-Thornton said. “You’re not going to do well if you can’t have fun with what you’re doing.”

Luckily, the team also has the results and prowess to back it up, something that Griffin knows will carry into the next season.

“From a talent standpoint, we’re returning with a lot of talent,” Griffin said. “We feel good about the class we’ve got coming in. I think we know that we’re capable of being the best.”


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