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Men’s and women’s swimming prepares for conference championships

With the conference championships coming up in a few short weeks, the Augustana men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have been mentally and physically preparing themselves for their end of the season.

The teams have one remaining regular season meet at Wheaton on Saturday, February 3. At the Wheaton Invitational held earlier this season, both Augustana teams earned last place. However, there were Division 1 and 2 schools present at that event. This next meet at Wheaton is just a triangular meet against Wheaton and North Central.

Junior captain, Jared Ekberg, said how the swimmers are mainly focusing on the conference championship now, but the Wheaton meet is an opportunity to see where the swimmers are at mentally and physically.

“Everyone is excited for conference at this point, and this is our final chance to race before we go to conference and do the final product,” Ekberg said.

This meet allows the team a chance to showcase their abilities a couple weeks before conference. Senior captain, Kristin Schoenecker, said this time before conference is a great way to boost each other’s confidence.

“Wheaton will be another good opportunity for us all to support each other,” Schoenecker said. “Everyone will focus in, swim as fast as they can and trust their training.”

The teams have switched up their training routines this season. The swimmers are lifting a lot more weights and focusing on having a strong mentality.

As a senior captain, Sara Hovren said this new training has been a little difficult to adjust to for some. However, the teams are truly improving their mental toughness along with the physical aspect.

“A lot of us aren’t necessarily used to it, so we might not have been getting the results in the pool that we want, but everyone’s putting in a lot of work, and everyone’s staying focused,” Hovren said.

Senior captain, Brandon Marcy, also commented on the results of training this year compared to other years. Marcy has noticed that the team has had faster times in the finals due to their training.

“I think it’s good that we’re training this hard because during conference, we’re going to be more prepared,” Marcy said.

Since the team has more confidence with their physical strength this year, much of the focus has been on maintaining a positive mentality. With the championship being the same week as finals at Augustana, this can cause added stress for the swimmers.

In order to not have a distressed mindset when heading into the end of their season, the teams try to not focus on their past meets, but keep a goal of finishing strong at conference.

“I don’t put a lot of pressure especially on these meets so close to conference because I don’t want to get myself in a bad mental state before going into conference because I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped,” Hovren said. “It’s important to go in with an attitude that you can handle it and that the race isn’t done until you’re done.”

The conference championships for both teams will be held Thursday, February 15 through Saturday, February 17 at Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Photo above: Sophomore Connor Bullard swims backstroke at practice to train for the team’s meet against Wheaton on February 3. Photo by Tony Dzik.

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