Swimmers capture first win in annual meet

Homecoming marked the start of the men and women’s swimming and diving season with a unique event.

On Saturday, UW-Eau Claire was host to the Midwest Coed Relay Meet. The meet allowed both the men’s and women’s teams to compete together in relay events. Each relay was comprised of two females and two males.

“It’s usually men competing against men and women against women.”Rob Welcher

“Although we train together and go to all of our meets together, it’s usually men competing against men and women against women,” coach Rob Welcher said. “It’s kind of an interesting combination.”

The Blugolds captured first place with a score of 80. They were followed by UW-Oshkosh, 58 points, Webster University (Mo.), 42, and UW-River Falls, 38.

The team of senior Annie Gorman, sophomore Brian Hauerwas, sophomore Sarah Fisher and junior Cale Schmidt-Jackson took first place for the Blugolds in the 400-yard butterfly with a time of 4:07.57.

The Eau Claire 400-yard backstroke relay of sophomore Emmie Lee, Hauewas, Fisher, Schmidt-Jackson and Gorman joined junior Nick Peterson, junior Emily Viau and freshman Patrick Finley to capture first in the 800-yard freestyle.

Welcher had high praise for the work Viau has put in at the beginning of the season.

“Emily came out of one turn a little behind, but coming out, she was almost one body length ahead because she was working her turns so well,” he said.

The Eau Claire men start this season after finishing 21-11 last year and 3-2 in WIAC dual meets. The Blugolds will compete in 10 meets before the WIAC Championships, which are held in March in Minneapolis. Last year, Eau Claire sent two divers to Nationals.

On the women’s side, the Blugolds finished last season 20-9 and 3-2 in the WIAC. They too will compete in 10 meets before WIAC Championships, four of them at McPhee.

The ‘Golds will find tough competition in upcoming meets, Welcher said. He said Minnesota State-Mankato, a Division II school and the Blugolds’ next competitors, will be especially tough. Welcher also said stiff WIAC competition will come from UW-Stevens Point and UW-La Crosse.

In the mixed 400-yard breaststroke relay, the foursome of Emily Diehl, Schmidt-Jackson, Jenna Spicer and Peter Schultz swam a 4:37.47 race to take first.

Also taking first were Lee, Hauerwas, Spicer, Schmidt-Jackson, junior Alissa Condra, freshman Clark Draxler, senior Cori Severson and Finley in the mixed 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:44.39.

In the winning mixed 200-yard freestyle relay were Severson, freshman Bill Peterson, sophomore Kyle Welke and junior Brian Schwartz. In 4:11.74, the team of Diehl, sophomore Brian Jordan, Gorman, and Schmidt-Jackson won the mixed 400-yard medley individual relay. The group of Severson, Peterson, Gorman, and Finley grabbed first place in the mixed 400-yard freestyle relay.

The relays will help build on the team chemistry, something Welcher said is already ahead of where he has seen it in past years.

“Each year, it takes some time for the team to gel,” he said. “Even if you have returners, you always have new freshmen, and there is always a time of getting them to be part of the team. That’s already started going well.”

Up next for the Blugolds will be MSU-Mankato at 4 p.m. on Friday.