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Badilla and Card represent UWEC in Div. III national championships

The UW-Eau Claire swimming and diving team sent two athletes to the NCAA Division III Championships in Shenandoah, Texas last week.

Junior Alex Card placed 10th in both the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard breaststroke, receiving honorable mention All-American status in each of those events.

Despite his finish, Card broke the school record in the 200-yard breaststroke he set at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championships last month. Although his time 2:01.36 is the new record, Card recognizes the increased speed across the field.

“The entire nationals have gotten faster and it’s not just the breaststroke,” Card said. “It’s every single event.”

This is Card’s second trip to the national meet. The previous year he recorded a time of 2:03.66 in the 200-yard breaststroke, which gave him a seventh place finish. Despite this potentially disappointing finish, Card says his sights are set for a return to the grandest stage.

“I am looking forward to next year now knowing what I have to do to get faster,” Card said.

Card also said his focus on the event may have hurt his potential finish.

“Going into it I said I wanted to just have fun,” Card said. “I think I put a little too much stress on myself when I realized I was third and fifth (in the 100-yard and 200-yard respectively) and I thought I had to get those places.”

Head coach Art Brandt commended Card on his skill throughout the season and accomplishments on the national level.

“It’s really difficult to go to swimming and diving nationals,” Brandt said. “We tend to do backflips if we get anybody in.”

Brandt also said that he and Card are already working on training exercises to increase his speed for next season.  Despite the training and planning, Brandt said making it to nationals is not a given because it comes down to timing.

“You really can’t start a season and think you’re entitled to go to nationals or even be on the conference team,” Brandt said. “We just need to see how the year plays out.”

Brandt also praised the work of senior diver Nick Badilla. The three-time All-American competed in the one-meter and three-meter dive where he finished 20th and 18th, respectively.

Badilla has made it to the national meet in each of his four years on the team, just missing out on All-American status in his final year.

“I would have loved to have been a national champion but I missed some dives that kept me out of the top sixteen,” Badilla said. “I’m happy I have had eight years of year-round diving and I’m finally able to say I’m retired.”

Badilla said his plans are to help with Eau Claire’s diving team next year as an assistant coach and that future diving plans are not out of question.

The teammates collected enough team points to earn 35th place with Kenyon College (Ohio) winning for the men’s side and Emory University (Ga.) for the women.

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