By Ben Hercik
The Vikings’ swim teams decided to take the break just like all the other students, using it to get away from the school and relax. Most student-athletes who are in a two semester sport do not get this luxury. However, it was not all fun and games, as the team took a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico to train for the remainder of the season according to swim team head coach Paul Graham
“Both teams attended a training camp in San Juan, which we used as an opportunity to get better as a team in and out of the pool,” Graham said. “While this did take us out of some normal routines, it was a much needed break for the athletes.”
With the Horizon League Championships just around the corner, the Vikings swim teams have begun to shift their focus to the tournaments with a pair of tri-meets last weekend against conference foes University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). While both teams dropped the meets on Dec. 11, the men’s team bounced back and won both matches on the Dec. 12, beating UIC 123-117 and IUPUI 126-116. Helping the Vikings to the win were performances by sophomore Dominik Niedzialek, sophomore Jack Krusinick and sophomore Timothy Kubacki. Niedzialek won the 1650-yard freestyle by five seconds over second place with a time of 15:51:04, a new personal record for the swimmer. He followed that up with a second place showing in the 500-yard freestyle. Krusinick won the 200-yard breaststroke by a second and a half over second place. Kubacki won the 200-yard backstroke, and finished 4th in the men’s 200-yard freestyle just behind Senior teammate Jason van der Towu by .19 seconds.
The women’s team was not as fortunate, dropping all four matches over the break. Senior Molly McNamara was the standout over the two days, winning all four individual events that she entered, the 100-yard butterfly and the 400-yard individual medley on Dec. 11, and both the 200-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley on Dec. 12. In the 200-yard individual medley McNamara was joined by three of her teammates finishing in the top five, sophomores Alana Cartwright and Dana Bender and freshman Agnes Bahr finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Cartwright also finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke on the first day, just edging out sophomore teammate Libby Smith. The women’s team did have a meet scheduled with Marshall University for Jan. 19, but it was canceled due to the inclement weather.
When asked about the meets, Graham is looking at the positive aspect of the meets and using that heading into the final stretch of the season.
“Both teams were much better on Saturday,” Graham said. “We are carrying that forward as we prepare for the end of the season.”
Both teams faced Oakland University on Jan. 26, who is the five-time defending Horizon League Champions. Both teams fell short of beating the powerhouse team, but multiple swimmers from both the men’s and women’s teams stood out in this meet.
Krusinick won the men’s 200-yard breaststroke and finished second in the 100-yard event. Niedzialek, Krusinick, Kubacki and senior MacJilton Lewis placed second through fifth, respectively, in the 200-yard individual medley. In the men’s diving portion of the event, sophomore Matt Akers posted a score of 305.85 in the one-meter dive, which is a score that will qualify him for the NCAA Championships if he equals or bests it at the upcoming Horizon League Championships.
For the women’s team, McNamara continued her winning ways, sweeping the butterflies, as well as being a key factor in the women’s relays. In the 200-yard medley relay, McNamara was joined by Cartwright, freshman Riley Drummond and senior Claudia Zido finishing under one second behind the winners. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, McNamara was joined once again by Zido, as well as junior Gabriella Marinelli and sophomore Irena Weclawika in another runner-up performance. Sophomore Lexie Kostelnik also won the 500-yard freestyle.