By Michael Comodeca
The Cleveland State women’s swimming and diving team opened their season in Hamilton, New York, at Colgate University. This meet was the Justin Jennings Memorial Invitational, which took place on Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7 in Colgate’s Lineberry Natatorium.
At the end of the day Friday, through 10 events, the Vikings were in fifth place with an accumulated score of 126.5. After all 38 events on Saturday were completed, Cleveland State had moved into fourth place with a score of 531.5 and secured their first top-5 finish of the season.
“I think this first meet went as well as first meets normally go,” Jamie VanDewerker said. “Although people don’t expect to swim their fastest times, everyone came out to swim the best races they could right now, and we did a great job supporting each other.”
Cleveland State welcomed 10 freshmen to the team this year, giving the seniors an opportunity to set a positive example for them.
“Since our team did welcome 10 freshmen ladies this year, there is a little more responsibility to set the best example,” senior Tobie Zeller said. “I would say that this year’s senior class leads more by example than by voice. We are all trying to set a positive and motivating tone for the year, which seems to be working out very well.”
One of the biggest things in sports is camaraderie and trust, so the Vikings held a retreat prior to the season to get to know each other. The retreat was important because there is such a large class of freshmen this season.
“Throughout the season we try to have a few team building trips and activities. At the beginning of each season we have a team retreat which really helps everyone on the team get to know the freshmen,” Zeller said. “It was especially helpful this year when adding so many newcomers. The retreat this year was a high ropes course which was so much fun and was a blast being able to complete with our teammates.”
Many of the young women expect to be very competitive and make large contributions to the overall success of the team.
A couple of the ladies have already begun to stand out during the meet at Colgate University. Dana Bender had a good weekend finishing first in the 200-meter backstroke, seventh in the 100-meter backstroke, and seventh in the 100-meter individual medley. Gracyn McQueary and Libby Smith also had impressive debuts and freshman Erica Henrichsen placed fourth in a diving event.
“We have such a talented class this year and overall they have already proven that they have come here to swim fast,” VanDewerker said. “Freshman Dana Bender broke the meet record in the 200-meter backstroke at the first meet of our season. Many other freshmen including Lexie Kostelnik and Amelia Besterman have already shown great range in the events that they will be competitive in.”
While morale is high coming off a top 5 finish, Cleveland State’s next two meets will close out their schedule for the month of October.
Up next, the ladies have a meet at Xavier University that will take place on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m. The second of the two meets will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio on Friday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. and the diving event will start at 4 p.m.
“Morale is high right now especially since we have such a large class of newcomers that are so excited to start racing,” VanDewerker said.
Zeller is looking forward on the upcoming meets in Southern Ohio.
“The team is very excited about the upcoming weekend,” Zeller said. “We are looking for more opportunities to improve and swim fast.”