The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Blugolds swim and dive teams end off-season scorching hot

Men’s and women’s swim and dive teams perform stunningly at the UIC Diving invite and Gustie Invite
The swimmers cheer on their teammate. Photo used with permission from Shane Opatz, UWEC Photo.

The UW-Eau Claire’s swim and dive team came to compete on Saturday, Feb. 3, in the Gustie Invite and UIC Diving Invite. The team posted an astonishing thirty-eight top-three placements at the Gustie invite. 

Eric Schroeder is a first-year student on the team, where he performs IM/backstroke in competitions. 

“It was electric,” Schroeder said. “The guys in the relay at the end performed well after earlier events at the meet didn’t go as planned.”

Bryna Gulbrandson, a second-year student who performed in the distance competition for the women’s team and competed in the relay in the Gustie Invite.

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“Across the board, all of our team did amazing, and they really did a fantastic job of proving themselves and all the work they have put in coming up to this meet,” Gulbrandson said. 

During the event, first-year student Todd O’Conner posted a 48-second time in the 100-meter freestyle event.

“That’s O’Connor best split by a second and a half — which is an absurd split — and it would have even been the best at the conference when we competed earlier this year,” Schroeder said. 

Paired with O’Conner’s outstanding performance was Gulbrandson’s pair of solo event first places.

Gulbrandson’s placements came from her best time of eight seconds in the 500-yard freestyle and her performance in the 1650-yard freestyle. Gulbrandson also earned first place in the 400-yard freestyle relay event with her relay team. 

Before the Gustie Invite and UIC Diving invite, the men’s and women’s teams spent time over this winter break in Puerto Rico training for the upcoming event and postseason. 75 team members took the trip down to train in Puerto Rico. 

“We trained twice a day, and practices were challenging and made us mentally strong and further brought us together as a team,” Shroeder said.

“It was an excellent training experience, and we got a lot of good practice and drills in, but it was also a great team bonding experience overall,” Gulbrandson said.

Heading off the training in Puerto Rico, the Gustie Invite and the UIC Diving Invite, the team and staff focus is being shifted to the WIAC tournament, which commences Feb. 14. 

Throughout these upcoming weeks, the team intent is to continue to motivate themselves and their surrounding teammates, according to Schroeder and Gulbrandson. 

“The team has put in all the hard work, and now it is just time to show it,” Gulbrandson said. “We have a good shot at winning the WIAC again. We die in the water together, and it’s the energy that the team keeps up that helps.”

The women’s team won the WIAC last year for the first time since 1999.

 “The team is focusing on the details we’re beginning to tweak and work on the minor details,” Schroeder said. “Our practices will become shorter, we’re beginning to eat better and sleep more while cracking down on details in and out of the water.”

Coach Annie Ryder leads the team in her tenth season as head coach. 

“She [Ryder] and the other coaches put in one hundred percent effort in practices and meets to make us better athletes and students. The staff is constantly setting us up for success in and out of the pool,” Schroeder said.

Gulbrandson added that she was excited to get to the WIAC and believes in a top-tier performance from both teams. 

Voelker can be reached at [email protected]

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