by Meg Keim & Thor Thompson
The Swimming and Diving team at MSUM is taking things into its own hands this season. The athletes hold the potential to qualify for nationals, break their fastest times and achieve their greatest scores.
This season has been something of a marvel as the Dragons have achieved 300 personal bests and had strong showings the majority of the season with four dual wins and a first place finish at their own Dragon Invite in January.
Junior Emily Pascavis is rocking her competition with lifetime bests, national qualifying scores and three separate Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Diver of the Week honors. She has achieved the Courtyard by Mariott athlete of the week and shows no sign of slowing down.
Pascavis, a Concordia transfer, had hip surgery and spent a year out of the water in order to heal. Coming back from her injury this year, she was worried about her improvement and scores but was pleasantly surprised by her success.
Coach Todd Peters notes that Pascavis “is our top diver” and that “it’s amazing that [a] year ago she was injured, and this year she has qualified for nationals,” and appears to be moving in a positive direction both physically and mentally.
However, the junior diver does admit it was a rocky start to the season. Pascavis said she “worked her butt off to get here” and explained she still “has the fire burning to improve.”
In addition to working on her dives, Pascavis noted she has been focusing on her fundamentals as well. She explained perfecting the dives, and doing them correctly is important. She said “we learn so many dives so quickly that it’s a struggle to perfect all of them without knowing the fundamentals first.”
Peters agrees working with fundamentals is key, but also believes working as a team and having that bond is important as well.
The team took a special trip to Puerto Rico over winter break to practice, have fun and create important friendships. The team traveled to Florida in the past, but changed it up this year; the athletes thoroughly enjoyed it.
Pascavis noted “it was an amazing experience” and agreed it brought them all together as a team. They got the chance to go zip lining as well as take in the scenery. Coach Peters hinted they relaxed on the beach a lot between morning and afternoon practices.
Pascavis used the opportunity in Puerto Rico to bond with her teammates and said they have “grown together a lot and became a lot closer than we were at the beginning of the season.”
She explained the support they have for each other is very important, and it’s exciting to watch personal success but also have teammates for support as well.
Cheering on teammates is important to the team, and they notice when others around them are doing well.
Pascavis gushed about her fellow diver Amanda Groebner, a sophomore on the team. Pascavis said Groebner is “really coming into her own,” and watching her meet her potential is fun.
In their meet Jan. 31 at Minnesota State Mankato, Groebner got a national prequalifying score (390.45) narrowly topping the requirement of 390 points. Coach Peters also noted Jackie Woods is the closest of the swimmers to qualifying for nationals, and Erin Sullivan is also having a wonderful year individually as well as a member of relay teams.
Dragons who don’t qualify for Nationals in March end their season at the conference meet Feb. 18-21 in Cleveland, Miss.