Swimmers Strive For Best Season Yet

Melanie Quintanilla, Multimedia Editor

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Swimmers on the women’s and men’s swim teams are concentrating on challenging each other to achieve their best this season.

Senior captain Patrick O’Dell, healthcare management major, said each swimmer is striving to achieve their personal best times and have a teammate finish in the top eight in every event at MACs. “We also want to send swimmers to NCAAs.  In order to complete this goal, our team is able to challenge one another every day in practice. Working hard every day and pushing each other to our limits will help us accomplish this goal,” O’Dell said.

Last year both teams finished runner-up in the 2015 MAC Championship. They have been working hard during the pre-season in hope of bettering last year’s results and ending up on top.

The focus of their training and their meets in the regular season is to prepare for post-season play. Tough regular season competitions will prepare swimmers for the MAC and NCAA Championships.

In practices they are focusing on the details and making sure that they are doing the little things right.

“We practice hard and train hard every day and work together to achieve team goals that make us a stronger team this season and for the future.  We look forward to a great season and hard work ethics,” said senior Matt Cullen, government law and national security major.

O’Dell said the preparation  will help as swimmers proceed with training. “Now that we are in swim shape we will start to focus on speed and swimming fast, which is always fun.”

Junior Thomas Scott, biology major, said swimmers are working on their skills in the water and their race execution. “We do a good amount of skill work during practice to work on any deficiencies in our stokes, turns and starts. We then just get on the block and race during practice, that way we can work on those skills while trying to perform at race level,” Scott said.

With eight members on the men’s team, and 13 on the women’s team, they are an extremely talented group overall, swimmers said.

“Instead of quantity this year, we are putting a major focus on quality. We have spent more time then ever on technique and the details in practice. I think this will really show our races when we are tired and are still able to maintain the best technique,” said O’Dell.

O’Dell said the team’s size makes it “special.”

“I think because we only eight members, we have a special bond with one another. We all have different strengths that we all can use during the season. It’s been fun working with all of them and learning how we can benefit off of one another.”

Cullen agrees with O’Dell that the swimmers have talent.

“I think that even though we have a small men’s team with small numbers we have a lot of depth within the men on the team, and we are looking to send some guys to NCAA Championships or send many of our guys for finals in at MAC championships,” said Cullen.

Senior Danielle Blass, occupational major, and sophomore Joseph Grzech, physician assistant major, came extremely close to reaching the NCAA meet a year. They both had NCAA cuts last year and they are striving to improve on those marks.

This season Blass is named captain and returns with the accomplishments of being MAC Female Swimmer of the Year after she won three MAC Championships. Blass also set three MAC records in the 400 individual medley, 200 breaststroke and 100 breaststroke.

Second senior captain Taylor Grenier, occupational major, returns this season in the backstroke and butterfly. Her hard work a has earned respect. Last year she was a part of the winning 200 medley relay team and the 400 medley relay team at the MAC Championships.

The other three seniors Kerri Ciriello in freestyle, Jackie Cormier in butterfly and freestyle and Allison McCallister in freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke all return with positive attitudes.

On the men’s team  two seniors lead this season, captain Patrick O’Dell in backstroke and individual medley,  and Matt Cullen in freestyle. Cullen was the runner up on the 400 freestyle team last year and also finished in the top six in two events.

“Both of them work really hard both in and out of the pool, and it already is starting to show in the pool. Both are great athletes and are pivotal to our team,” said Scott. “Matt is one of our sprinters and he has been working really hard on his freestyle turns. He already has been posting some really good times and we are looking for him to have a great season . Pat is kind of like our jack knife. He can be put in a bunch of different events and will perform really well and places high within the conference.

O’Dell said he is focusing on “teaching, motivating and leading” this season.

“It is important I help teach the underclassman the culture of our team as well as the different types of drills and swim sets we do. I want to motivate my team and help them reach a new level of discomfort in their training that they never thought they could reach. And I want to be able to listen to my team, help them with any questions or concerns, and listen to what they need help with and step in where I can,” said O’Dell.