Swimming suits up for conference
Thursday marks the start of the biggest competition of the swimming and diving season for UW-Eau Claire, where both the men’s and women’s team will compete with the other schools in the conference.
At the end of the season, the annual Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s and women’s swimming and diving championships are held. The championship will run Thursday through Saturday, where 18 competitors from each team will compete.
Arthur Brandt, coach for both the men’s and women’s teams, said he was confident that Stevens Point would place in first for the men’s team; but for second place, he said it will be a battle between UW-La Crosse, UW-Whitewater and Eau Claire.
As for the outcome for the women’s team, Brandt said it was too early to determine.
Brandt said that the teams in the conference are so even that the difference will be something as simple as a better-than-expected performance by a player, which would tip the balance in favor of that team.
“There will be some races at conference, much as there have been races here in (our) pool, that will be amazing to watch,” Brandt said.
Senior Nicole Dorvinen said that her expectations for the women’s team were simply for them to try their best.
“As a captain, I want our women to swim their hardest,” Dorvinen said. “Whether that means placing in the top-16, the top-8, or winning the event … I just want the women to swim to the best of their abilities.”
Dorvinen has set a few goals for herself this year, including a hope to rewrite the record books.
“I’m swimming the mile, which I haven’t done in the past few years,” Dorvinen said. “I am going to try to break the school record in that.”
Dorvinen placed first at last year’s WIAC championship in the 200-butterfly, 400-individual medley and the 500-free. Replacing the 500 with the mile this year, she hopes that she will again be able to pull off three gold medals.
Freshman Jake McDade is participating in the WIAC championship for the first time and believes the team will perform well.
“We have a fairly well-rounded team,” McDade said. “We’ve got a lot of sprinters on the team, but then again we have some really good distance swimmers as well.”
Junior Nick Badilla said the level at which the team has bonded this year really gives an added advantage, which is something he thinks is necessary since the team has lost some key performers that contributed to last season’s success.
“We lost some pretty good seniors from last year, which really helped drive us home to get a second-place finish,” Badilla said, adding that the men’s team had not done that well since 1999.
Badilla took third place in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving competition last year and hopes to improve on those performances. His goal is to secure second place on the lower diving height.
Badilla said this year he’s acquired a new dive with a harder degree of difficulty, which he hope will help him achieve that goal.
“The way I look at some of those harder dives is that it’s a high risk, high reward,” Badilla said.
McDade put emphasis on the level of camaraderie the teams shared this year. He said each swimmer is at the skill level they are because of the support system in place.
“This is so much of a different team that I’ve ever been a part of,” McDade said. “Everyone is super supportive, and I love that about this team.”
The preliminary rounds for events will begin at 10 a.m. each day, while the finals will take place at 6:30 p.m. Teams that take home the WIAC Championship will be determined after the final event is completed on Saturday.