Severson to compete at nationals

When UW-Eau Claire senior swimmer Cori Severson pulled her head out of the water at the WIAC Conference meet, she couldn’t believe her final time for the 100-yard freestyle listed on the scoreboard.

“I was honestly shocked with disbelief,” Severson said. “It was faster than I’d ever swam before.”

Severson shattered the old WIAC Conference record time of 52.43 seconds by swimming a 51.74 race. It was the time that sent her to the Div. III Nationals meet hosted in Minneapolis from March 9 to 11.

“(Severson’s) time was a surprise for everyone, including her,” said men’s and women’s swimming coach Rob Welcher. “I knew she could go faster, but her time took a huge drop. She smashed the record by almost a second.”

As a second-year captain, Severson has had a positive influence on the team throughout the season, Welcher said.

She worked really hard and next season will see a huge change without her, he said.

To get ready for nationals, Severson said she will go through her normal routines.

“I’m preparing the same way I did for conference,” she said.

Along with a third seed in the 100-yard freestyle, Severson also will compete as a 16th seed in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.31 seconds. Severson experienced the 50-yard freestyle at nationals last year, where she swam to a 10th place finish with a time of 24.17.

Senior men’s diver Scott Heatwole was poised to make his third appearance at nationals after earning his second Diver of the Meet at the WIAC Conference meet. However, he unfortunately was not selected to dive at the national competition in Minneapolis from March 16 to 18.

“Scott dove better this year than he ever has,” Welcher said. “Just qualifying for nationals is quite an accomplishment, but not everyone that qualifies actually gets into the meet.”

Welcher said that unlike the selection committee for swimmers, which is based off of race times, divers go another tough route to get to nationals.

“(The selection committee) can only take so many divers and swimmers,” he said. “In diving, the judges look at video tapes and try to rank them as an object of measurement of their ability. However, there isn’t a ranked list that comes out of the process; only who made it and who didn’t.”

At nationals, 22 divers are selected to compete, judges constantly reexamine the tapes and there is a higher degree of difficulty for entry, Welcher said.

“Another coach saw a diver from St. Olaf (Minn.) that got into nationals, and he was surprised Scott didn’t make it,” Welcher said. “For now, we don’t know why Scott didn’t get in, but we can only assume there were small differences in the scores and the field of divers is just that good.”

Despite all of this, Welcher saw nothing but positives coming from Heatwole this
season. Heatwole could not be reached
for comment.

“(Heatwole) was very focused the entire season,” he said. “Scott is understandably disappointed and unhappy with what happened, but I’m still extremely proud in his accomplishments this season.”