Jack Wiessenberger – Staff Writer
For some Gustavus swimmers, they haven’t had the chance to race anyone besides their teammates in over 365 days. After a fall season where the mood swung from an early optimism for races to begin by the late fall to resigned gratitude for an intersquad meet in November, the spring competition plan laid out by head Swim and Dive Coach Jon Carlson was invigorating news. The first installment of this plan, a home intersquad meet, occurred over the past weekend on Saturday, January 30.
“The team competed well. We had some swimmers out in quarantine, but those that were able to swim did great. We used it as kind of a warm-up for taking on other teams this coming weekend,” Carlson said.
The intrasquad meet saw a portion of the team held out of competition due to COVID-19 contact tracing measures. Those that did compete, however, got a bit of extra preparation for the team’s first multi-program meet this weekend.
“Our next meet is here at Gustavus this Saturday against Hamline, Augsburg, and Concordia. I think our expectations are just to see what we can do. It has been a while since many of us have raced and we’re looking to see where our starting points are and where we can go from here,” Junior Swimmer Lillie Ortloff said.
The MIAC matchup will be the first regular season competition for many Gustie swimmers in over a year. The Gustavus Women’s team will take on Hamline, Augsburg, and Concordia while the Men’s faces Hamline in a dual meet. Athletes on both teams are just excited for the chance to get back in the water and shake off the rust from a year-long break in competition.
“Everybody is really happy and grateful to be able to get back to racing. Meets provide more meaning behind our training, and we always have a blast at them. A major part of being on our team and what makes it special is the team spirit and the dedication to cheering each other on while we race,” Junior Swimmer Axel Lange said.
During the months of doubt where athletes weren’t sure whether they would be getting a season or not, the swim team made sure to remain dedicated to their sport. Practices were challenging and provided time for the team to rally together in preparation for this weekend’s opening competition.
“It has been a tough few months of training, we have really been pushing ourselves in and out of the pool to make up for lost time. I think with the work the team has put in we are ready to not only compete in, but win our upcoming meets. With a good taper and the next month of training we will be looking pretty strong for our final meet against St. Thomas,” Lange said.
After this weekend’s events, the swim team has four more meets planned, including one more intrasquad next weekend. The following two meets will be against Saint John’s/Saint Ben’s and St. Thomas on February 20 and March 5, respectively. The MIAC has decided to forgo the Conference Championship meet this season out of concerns for COVID-19.
“As of right now, there is still an NCAA National Championship meet planned. To end our regular season, we will be the last MIAC team to swim against St. Thomas before they move to Division I. We will also use this meet as our NCAA qualifying meet the first weekend in March. I think it will be a great clash of the top two teams on the men’s side, and two of the top three teams on the women’s side. Needless to say, the team will be amped for that meet,” Carlson said.
Gustavus swimmers are looking forward to having a competition season, no matter how different it might look from last year. The last few months have been filled with hard work and patience, and it is all about to pay off.
“We have been putting in a lot of tough practices since starting back up and we’re starting to finetune strokes for racing again. The team is certainly excited to compete again. We’re a very competitive team and we have all been itching to get back into racing other schools. It’s been a long time,” Ortloff said.