Women’s team takes first win of year

Story by Briana Gruenewald

The UW-Eau Claire women’s swimming and diving team won its first meet of the season at home against Northern Michigan University Saturday. The team ended the meet with six first place finishes and 27 top-three finishes.

Junior Nicole Dorvinen placed first in the 200-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle. She said she attributes her success to her recent focus on improving her kicks, turns and breathing.

Junior Julia Olson earned first place in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle. She also swam with senior Megan Finley, junior Kirsten Lickel and senior Casey Preissel to win first place in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“My times were a little bit slower,” Olson said. “But I think overall we all did pretty well.”

Coach Art Brandt is pleased with the win, citing the consistency of this season’s team as a good measure of success.

At this point, he said there are strong individual swimmers but “need more of a supporting cast,” especially when they face St. Cloud State University (Minn.) next week, who he said has a stronger relay.

Brandt said he cannot yet predict how the rest of the season will play out because they’ve only had two meets. However, he said the meet this weekend against UW-Stevens Point (a team with a “bit more depth” than Eau Claire), as well as St. Cloud next week, will be a good gauge of how the rest of the season will go.

“I’ll have better idea next week about what we need to focus on,” Brandt said.

The tri-meet against St. Cloud and the Pointers will be held at 1:00 p.m. this Saturday in Stevens Point.

Dorvinen said Stevens Point is a strong rival so she wants the Blugolds to prove they deserve to be there.

“Point is the powerhouse of the conference. We don’t want them to push us to the side and think we don’t have a chance,” she said.

Olson hopes the girls can support each other throughout the day at Stevens Point.

“It would help to win,” she said. “But I just want to have good swims, positive attitudes and keep everyone motivated because the tri-meets can get long.”

In response to Brandt’s prediction of a strong St. Cloud relay, Olson said it will be a challenge but there is no guarantee who will win.

“They may have a stronger relay but it really comes down to who wants to win it badly enough,” she said.

Overall, Dorvinen is optimistic about the team as a whole this season based on the dynamics she has seen thus far.

“This year I’ve noticed that as a team we’re a lot closer and we get along and we support each other,” she said. “We’ve been doing a really good job being a family this year.”