by Tyler Jensen
The women of the Dragon swimming and diving team are looking to score a victory at home after taking third place in their first meet of the season on Oct. 2. The meet had MSUM facing off against Division I UND and St. Cloud State and their excellent swim team in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Overall, the Dragon women took third place with 889 points following St. Cloud State in second with 1117 and UND in first with 1858. The scoring works by assigning each place a point value, and the points from all competitors are added to their school’s total.
In the 200 yard competition, the fastest swimmer was freshman Natalie Kampa, who finished number 13 of 26 swimmers. In the 200 yard relay, the team of senior Jackie Woods, juniors Ashley Higgins and Amber Helgoe and freshman Lexi Heil finished in fifth place of ten teams.
In the freestyle category, MSUM swimmers finished above the half-way point only in the 50 and 100 yard competitions when Erin Sullivan took fourth out of ten and Annika Bordak took twelfth out of 28 respectively.
Head Coach Todd Peters said MSUM didn’t do poorly in the category because of a lack of skill in its swimmers, but rather the competition was some of the best.
“It’s not that we’re that weak, it’s that it is St. Cloud’s greatest strength, it’s really something they’re going after this year.”
He added that one of their best freestyle swimmers was a month behind in training after recovering from an injury.
Woods, who took second in the 200 yard breaststroke, was pleased with her performance, because she is more of a short distance sprinter than a long distance swimmer.
“I have a lot of respect for the distance swimmers,” she said.
Despite the loss, members of the team are happy with how they did, and optimistic for their next meet at MSUM on Friday and Saturday. Peters said there was a time at the UND meet where they were leading St. Cloud State. He said this encourages the team by showing them they can compete with some of the best swimmers.
Woods also feels confident about their chances this year. She said that there are a lot of skilled swimmers and divers coming back in addition to very enthusiastic freshmen joining the team. Woods added that the team benefits from an excellent diving group, which is able to score a lot of points for the team.
Both Peters and Woods said the Dragons will hold a home-pool advantage Friday and Saturday. Woods explained there is an advantage in knowing the pool before you swim a competition in it. She noted that at last year’s conference tournament, a lack of knowledge on how the pool was set up lead to her failing to connect with the pool wall.
Peters added that just sitting on a bus for hours can stiffen the body, something that can be an issue when swimmers go from the buses to warm-up to competition in a matter of hours.
The next meet will be held in Nemzek pool on Friday and Saturday. St. Cloud, Northern State, and Northern Michigan are competing.
After that MSUM will head to Aberdeen, South Dakota the following week where the swimmers will take on Northern State.