Gustavus Swimming and Diving prepare themselves for National meet

Gustavus’ Swimming and Diving team is hoping to build upon the success they had at last years National meet and the experience of being there the year before gives them a desired edge.

After a successful regular season, the Gusties are set to compete in Ohio

For decades, the Gustavus Swimming and Diving program has been synonymous with winning. The 2007-2008 swimming and diving season has been no different. Both the Men’s and Women’s squads brought home Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships from the conference meet which was held on February 14-16 at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.

Now, a month later, eight men from the Gustavus National Team are already getting geared up for the Division III National Swimming meet where they will face off with 50 other Division III schools from across the nation.

The National Meet will be held during the weekend of March 20-22, 2008 in Oxford, Ohio, at Miami of Ohio University. The Gustavus men finished fifth in the nation last year and hope to make a return appearance in the top 10 this year. Gustavus is taking more swimmers than any other school in the MIAC. Carleton has only one swimmer who qualified, and the same goes for Macalester. St. Olaf, Gustavus’s primary rival, is sending five swimmers to Nationals.

The Gustavus Men’s National team consists of Seniors Ben Hanson and Connor Ziegler, Juniors Tyler Wakefield, Dave Pearson, Matt Stewart and Clem Auyeung, Sophomore Skylar Davis, and Freshman Whitaker Davis. All the men are seeded high in their events. Ziegler is seeded ninth in the 100 fly. Hanson is seeded seventh in the 500 and 200 freestyle and fourth in the 200 fly. Stewart is seeded first in the 500 free, fourth in the 200 free, and sixteenth in the 200 fly. Skylar Davis is seeded 10th in the mile and his brother, Whitaker, is seeded thirteenth in the one mile.

The Men’s Relays are also seeded high. The Men’s 800 Free Relay is seeded fifth and the 400 Free Relay seeded at eleventh.

The fact that this year’s National Team has so many returning swimmers makes this a very strong team. “The team has extremely high expectations and goals for themselves,” said Ziegler. “We have a really good chance of making Top Ten this year and we all want to accomplish that.” This is Ziegler’s third year going to Nationals and he says it is a great way to cap off his swimming career here at Gustavus. Senior Ben Hanson said the workouts have been hard and extremely intense, but the atmosphere is extremely positive because each team member is working so hard and wants to do well.

When sitting and watching practice you can tell that these men want to do well and finish strong at this year’s meet. The overall emotion within the team is that they are “jacked for Nationals,” as they all said.

“The guys are all working very hard and are excited about this year’s meet. We have a veteran crew, and I expect they will perform well and represent the rest of the team with pride at Nationals,” said Head Coach Jon Carlson. Carlson has been a part of the Gustavus swimming dynasty for 18 years and has been highly successful as the head coach.

The Men’s Team will leave on Tuesday, March 18, and return Sunday, March 23. The National will be hosted by Wooster College. Psyche sheets, updated times and scores can be found on their website.

Photo By: Anna Ahlbrecht

Alex parker