Swiming/diving teams place third

The UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both placed third in the three-day WIAC swimming and diving championships. The women took third place for the fifth straight year and the men have now taken third for seven years running.

Junior Bryan Dykstra said one of the goals of the teams this weekend was to beat UW-Whitewater, a team that the Blugolds are evenly matched with concerning talent.

“I was really pleased with how the team did,” Dykstra said. “Our goal coming into this was to beat Whitewater, and that’s what we did.”

On the first day, relays for both the men’s and women’s teams disqualified after jumping before the sound of the gun. The disqualification cost them valuable points.

“Losing relay points is very costly and to battle back was a gutsy performance,” head coach Jerry Kollross said.

After the first day, the women sat in third place while the men were in fourth place, both out of six teams. The women accumulated 120 points on the first day, trailing the leader UW-Stevens Point by 172.5 points.

The men gained 139 points and trailed the leading UW-Stevens Point, who had 271 points after the first day.

Dykstra won the one-meter boards event, the sole Blugold victor of the day and of the three-day event. He scored 480.10 points, edging out last year’s winner, Jacob Chadderdon of UW-Oshkosh by 9.50 points.

The completion of the second day found the women’s team in the same position, while the men moved up one spot into third place. The women had a total of 307.5 points and the men had a score of 307.

The Stevens Point women had 661.5 points after the second day, more than twice the Blugolds’ score. The UW-La Crosse men finished Day 2 with 591 points, jumping ahead of Stevens Point by 2 points.

On Day 3, senior Emily Viau placed second in the 1650 freestyle and Dykstra added a second place finish in the 3-meter diving event to add to his 1-meter victory. Dykstra said that his goal was to win both his events but that he did his best. Dykstra’s season continues at the NCAA Division III Nationals competition.

Freshman teammate Kenny Ritt finished one place behind Dykstra, taking third.

Placing third as a team is a reasonable goal, considering Stevens Point and La Crosse’s recent history of dominance in swimming and diving, Dykstra said.

“When you’re winning year after year, it’s easy to recruit the best athletes coming out of high school,” he said.

During the event, Nick Peterson was awarded the WIAC Male Scholar Athlete of the Year for swimming and diving, an honor Kollross takes pride in.

Kollross said that he wanted his swimmers to swim their fastest times all season. With few exceptions, the Blugolds did just that. In order to climb out of the hole dug by the disqualifications, Eau Claire needed to take first in races that they, at least on paper, were not supposed to.

“We won some races we should not have won,” he said.

Ultimately, Kollross wanted his team to enjoy themselves.

“The thing that was most important thing was that we swam loose and had fun.”