As winter teams near the end of their seasons, they hold an end goal of championships in mind. While the Cobber women’s swim and dive team may not have come out of their season with a championship, they sure did finish with a bang.
At their final meet, the MIAC Championship, the Cobbers placed ninth overall, but showed this meet to be their best all season. They came out with two relay school records, two individual swimmer school records, 33 season-best times and five relay teams posting a season best time.
Sophomore Ciara White swam in both the 200 and the 400 meter medley relays that broke the school records at the MIAC meet. For White, the MIAC was a true testament for how she felt the team performed overall this season.
“We were doing really good,” White said. “Everyone was in good times I think for midseason…everyone seemed to have good races.”
For fellow medley relay participant senior Sarah Nelson, this season was one full of set goals and focusing on the little things to make the team better.
“This year, with the guidance of coach Gary Fisher, we set more attainable goals for each meet,” Nelson said. “I would focus on little things like flip turns or my streamlines and that helped things more naturally fall into place.”
White agreed that the little things mattered this season and helped her prepare for the MIAC meet.
“In practice, we were doing a lot of short fast swimming, so working on my technique a lot and making sure I was like breaking all my bad habits [was important],” White said. “I think my turns improved a lot. I worked on my turnover and my breast stroke which really helped my short-fast sprints.”
In addition to focusing on the little things, senior Lily Johnson said it was the support from the whole team that pushed them to meet their goals.
“I always wanted to be able to drop time at each meet. I think everyone’s goal was to drop time at every meet,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it didn’t happen, but as teammates we pushed each other daily at practices to try our best and give it our all. Having others to keep me going through hard practices helped a lot with my meet performance leading up to the MIAC meet.”
The team had high expectations going into the season and would settle for nothing less than their best. “Last year, I found out the night before the MIAC meet that I was not cleared to participate due to medical complications of a genetic, chronic illness I have,” Nelson said. “The seasons before that I broke the 200 butterfly record and had personal bests so this year my hopes were to beat even those times and swim lifetime bests. Of course, I had my eye on a number of records but I tried to just have fun and let the training and hard work fall into place.”
By simply allowing her training to speak for itself, Nelson accomplished nothing short of her goals. “I swam lifetime bests in all seven events I was entered in, two individual events and five relays,” Nelson said. “For my last MIAC meet, I came away with four new school records: 100 butterfly 200 butterfly, which I rebuke from two years ago, the 200 medley relay, which was 16 years old and the 400 medley medley relay. I am very proud of myself [which is] something that has been difficult for me to feel after being so hard on myself for so many years.” For White, the goal was just to be as fast as she knew she could be. While the final results may not have accomplished her end goal, she is not too disappointed.
“I was hoping to be as fast I was at [last year’s] MIAC meet,” White said. “But the week before I ended up getting sick . . . I placed higher than I did last year, but my time wasn’t faster … so I wasn’t too bummed considering I placed higher.”
Johnson agrees that she may not have accomplished every goal that she set for herself, but she is proud of her performances nonetheless.
“I dropped a lot of time from previous meets in the season and went season best times in all my events at MIAC,” Johnson said. “I could have chosen to be mad at myself for not getting a personal best . . . however, I chose to look back and reflect on all the hard work I put into during my four years as a college swimmer and tell myself that no matter how fast I swam, I know I accomplished so much and should be proud of myself for all the hard work I put into this sport.”
While many members of the team came out of the season with individual performances to be proud of, the pride for their team’s accomplishments did not fall short of their self-pride.
“Of the 34 entries at the MIAC meet, our team had 33 best swims, something that is rare,” Nelson said. “I came away with nothing but pride in both myself and my teammates.”
While the swimming careers of Nelson, Johnson and the team’s five other seniors is officially over, White can not wait to continue on swimming for her remaining two years.
“It’s basically one of the reasons I came to Concordia and I always have a lot of fun when I’m with my teammates,” White said.
For Nelson, looking back on the season, in her eyes, she came out on top of her senior season.
“I’m thankful to have been coached by Gary who has been the team’s biggest cheerleader, the teammates I have grown with throughout the season, my family for being my main support system, and even the opportunity to have been able to close out my competitive swimming career the way I did,” Nelson said.
Johnson’s views about her final season are nothing short of Nelson’s.
“For 10 years swimming has been a part of me, and it will be a little strange to not jump in the pool next fall,” Johnson said. “But swimming has taught me so many valuable life lessons that I will always carry with me…I came away from the meet with a group of girls who have become like a family to me, and I couldn’t imagine a better group to end my swimming career with.”