Swimming and diving teams eager to repeat last year’s successes

The Carnegie Mellon swimming and diving teams kicked off their season with an intersquad meet last Saturday. The teams have been training since the beginning of the school year, but the season officially started Sept. 20. With high expectations for the season, the Tartans hope to not only meet but exceed the high standards of previous years.

The men’s team placed second in the University Athletic Association (UAA) conference last year, falling only to the first-ranked Emory University Eagles. “This year, we’re expecting to take a big step forward. We’re going to work on narrowing the gap between us and Emory to get closer to first place,” said senior Josh Plotnik. The men will work on improving their times individually and as a whole throughout the season.

The women also expect their biggest rival to be Emory this season, as they, too, have consistently fallen behind the Eagles in past years. However, they also expect to improve their status against the Eagles this year, especially in relays. “We’re hoping to get relay teams to qualify for National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA], and at conference we want to get as many people scoring in finals as possible,” said senior Rebecca Ussai.

The Tartans are also working to keep up their academic prestige. In August, both the men’s and women’s teams were honored by the College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) for their academic success during the 2009–2010 school year. The women had the 12th-highest GPA for the year, out of 121 schools honored, with a 3.48 team GPA; the men, with their 3.52 average, ranked second in the nation. The women also had four Scholar All-American swimmers, while the men’s team had nine recipients of the honor. To achieve this, an individual must qualify for NCAA Championships and have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Both the men and women hope to maintain the high standards that the team set last season. “We want to keep our academics up this season while also swimming faster,” said sophomore Karl Weisling.

In an effort to reach those goals, the swimming and diving team puts in numerous hours of practice per week. As a result of the time spent together, members of the team also get closer to one another, establishing a greater team community. “Being around people who make the sport fun gives it a great atmosphere and helps push you because you’re giving it so much,” first-year Kathleen Dolan said.

With the start of their first meet schedule quickly approaching, the Tartans will continue training to improve their performance to beat University Athletic Association rival Emory at the conference meet in February. Saturday’s intersquad meet served to help the team transition into competition, helping the swimmers “get our feet wet,” as Plotnik put it, since most members had not competed since February or March.

The swimming and diving team will host Clarion University for its first official dual meet on Oct. 30 at the University Center pool. The meet begins at 11 a.m.