Swimmers shine in Hawaii

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Those lucky swimmers.

During winter break the UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s swim teams traveled to Honolulu. This yearly training trip provides the swimmers a chance to focus on improving their swimming while relaxing in a tropical climate.

The swimmers’ excursion began on Dec. 27 and ended on Jan. 11.

While there, the swimmers took part in a variety of activities outside of training.

“One day we went hiking in the mountains and got lost for three hours,” freshman Stetson Johnson said. “We went cliff diving off a 47-foot cliff into the ocean.”

“We celebrated New Year’s on the beach,” Johnson said. “It was a really neat atmosphere.”

While the athletes relaxed, even head coach Rob Welcher let loose.

“Coach got on stage during a luau and danced with a group of hula girls,” Johnson said.

But a training trip can’t be all fun and games.

“We worked them pretty hard,” Welcher said. “We had two two-hour practices every day.”

To add to the excitement of their trip, the swimmers held a stroke clinic for youths from a local swim team.

“I think that the stroke clinic was a very rewarding experience for the swimmers,” Welcher said. “I think they all took something positive away from that experience.

“The little kids really looked up to the swimmers,” Welcher said. “They gave their complete attention, and I think we all had a great time.”

While in Hawaii the teams participated in the Rainbow Classic Invitational, a meet for the teams that come to Hawaii for training.

“It was fun for the swimmers to swim a long course meet,” Welcher said. “They all swam well, but we didn’t keep score.”

After their return from Hawaii, the men’s and women’s teams took on UW-River Falls.

In men’s action, their first dual meet of the season, the Blugolds dominated River Falls, winning with a 55-18 decision. The men were able to win all but two events.

Firsts were posted from junior Brent Witt in the 200-yard freestyle, freshman Brian Bartlett in the 100 butterfly, freshman Nick Robertson in the 100 freestyle, freshman Troy Altobell in the 100 backstroke, and junior Chris Smith in the 100 breaststroke.

The Blugolds also took both the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay events.

On the women’s side, the Blugolds captured victory with a 52.5-30.5 decision. The Blugolds took seven events and River Falls took the other four.

This was the women’s fourth dual meet of the season, and with the win they were able to improve their record to 2-2.

“The meet wasn’t that hard for us,” sophomore Jill Wendorff said. “Going into the meet we knew that it wasn’t going to be very difficult, so our coach had us swim events that we wouldn’t normally win.”

“(Sophomore) Liz Rodgers swam really well in her 400 individual medley,” Wendorf said. “She may end up swimming more of that event.”

Individual firsts were taken by freshman Meghan McDonald in the 50 and 100 freestyles, senior Jasmine Longhenry in the 1000 freestyle, sophomore Kristjana Marston in the 200 freestyle, sophomore Renee Renelt in the 400 individual medley and senior Brianna Crowey in the 100 backstroke.

“A lot of people were really surprised by how well they did in their events,” Wendorff said.

The women also were able to capture first in the 200 medley relay.

The men and women swimmers will face UW-Whitewater in another conference dual meet Saturday in Whitewater.

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