Swimming tallies All-American awards

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Story by Emily Albrent

The men’s and women’s swim and dive teams took home several All-American honors at the 2012 NCAA Div. III meet on Saturday. The women’s team tied for 28th place overall, while the men tied for 32nd.

Women

Senior Nicole Dorvinen participated in five events at Nationals, two of which were relays. Since it was her last year getting to compete, she said she wanted to make sure she left her mark.

“I just went into my final meet of my collegiate year saying, ‘Last one, best one,’ leaving it all in the pool,” Dorvinen said. “I had to go out with a bang.”

Dorvinen broke her own school record in the 400 individual relay twice — first in the preliminaries and then again in the finals. She placed fifth overall and earned her way to first team All-American honors.

Dorvinen said that her improvement from the conference meet made all the difference to her.

“I was pretty happy with my time,” she said. “At conference I wasn’t really pleased with how I swam, so being able to go faster at Nationals I was pretty happy about.”

Dorvinen’s next best individual finish came on the final day when she placed 12th in the 1,650- yard freestyle, good enough for All-American honorable mention.

Junior Grace Fair also qualified for Nationals in five events, four of which were relays. Fair was at the meet for the second straight year and said that competition at Nationals is so intense that it was a bit intimidating the first time around.

“The second year you are just more confident and excited, less nervous,” she said.

Fair had a 16th place finish as a member of the 400-yard freestyle relay team, earning the swimmers All-American honorable mention. Joining her on the team were seniors Kristen Lickel and Julia Olson and sophomore Kristin Peters.

“That is really special to all of us that … have been on it for several years,” Fair said. “All this season (it was) that same group of four of us, so it was a little emotional,” Fair said.

 

Men

Junior Nick Badilla competed in 1-meter and 3-meter dives at Nationals and was one of two men to qualify for the meet. Prior to this year, Badilla had been the only male competing at Nationals for the Blugolds. Badilla said that it was awesome to be able to finally have another male teammate with him this year.

“The whole mentality for both of us was … give everything you got, leave nothing behind, no holding back,” Badilla said.

Joining Badilla this year was sophomore Alex Card, who competed in three swimming events. He said he was ready for the challenge and was excited to be at the finals.

“Going into nationals for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect.,” Card said. “I guess you could say I was a little nervous in the beginning, but I slowly gained confidence as the meet went on.”

His performance in the 200 breaststroke helped him become the first Blugold men’s swimmer to earn first team All-American honors since 2002. He said this made him very excited about the Blugolds’ future.

“It’s an honor really,” Card said. “(When) I came to (Eau Claire) I was hoping to be a part of something greater. This team is growing, and this just means that I am the first one hopefully of many to come.”

Card also had success in the 100-yard breaststroke, where he earned a ninth place finish and All-American honorable mention.

Badilla said he had high expectations for himself this year and that he wanted to reach above and beyond what he accomplished last year.

“My expectations for myself were to make the top eight on both boards,” Badilla said. “I had just missed out on both of them the last two years, so that was … the goal to achieve this year,” Badilla said.

Badilla was held back by a stress fracture in his leg that he suffered prior to the competition. He said the fracture functioned like a broken leg, but he still tried to give his all.

Badilla still was able to finish in the top 20 for both events, placing 17th in the 1-meter competition and taking 18th in the 3-meter dive.

“I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to, but I am still very happy of how I did with basically one good leg,” Badilla said.  “I’m proud that I pushed myself through it and that my teammate Alex (Card) really helped me.”