Team culture brings first CCIW win since 1982


Courtesy of Augie Athletics Augustana men’s swimming and diving team takes home the first CCIW conference title since 1982 when the team was under Coach Hollway. The team won with a score of 968.5 points, 138.5 points ahead of second place.

Santiago Cuevas

After 41 years, the Augustana men’s swimming and diving team claim their first College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) win at the conference meet in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin on Feb. 18.

The conference championship lasted a total of four days, with the first day focusing on diving and the next three days focusing on the swimming portion of the sport. This has been a goal that the team has been working towards for the past year.

“We have had our eyes on winning since last year when the girls won the conference. We stood there and we were just like, you know, we’re gonna get that next year and so we worked really hard over the season and just overcame a lot,” sophomore swimmer Kacper Cebula said.

After the four days had passed and Augie came out on top, Cebula described the experience very positively.

“It felt surreal for the swim team because we were just talking about it so much and then it happened within three days. It was like wow, we really just did that,” Cebula said.

Though this win doesn’t come easy, as with any program there have been ups and downs throughout the season. In the end, the accomplishment of winning the conference championship proved that the team was able to prevail and accomplish something great.

“We faced a lot of setbacks both personal and across the entire team with illnesses and other matters. So, persevering through all sorts of challenges and sort of keeping that positive mindset, though the entire season across the entire team. Those are big,” senior swim team captain Isaiah Valentine said.

Over the past few years, the program has seen a lot of positive growth. One of the main reasons was the addition of the Lindberg building and pool, which changed the way practices worked.

Prior to the new pool, the swim team held their practices in the basement of Carver with a fraction of the equipment they have now.

“So much about our training has changed due to having the new pool such as more space and newer equipment,” Valentine said.

Despite the new facilities and access to new equipment, the team culture also played a vital role in winning the conference championship, especially since the team is young.

One of the many things that the team would do prior to their practices or before meets is have talks about how everyone was feeling and what the team environment was looking like.

Cebula said that this really pushed him to feel ready for competition, especially having leaders like Valentine and Jack Blumenfeld, a senior on the swim team.

“Having little meetings outside of practice or before talking about what we can focus on and do better as a team. Jack Blumenfeld also helped me get a racing mentality by trash-talking each other before races,” Cebula said.

The coaching staff is another main attribute of how the program has grown to be what it is despite it being a younger team.

A lot of what helped swimmers like Cebula and Valentine was the personalized training and plan that head Coach Dan Lloyd was able to provide.

“Coach had a great plan. Every break, every week was planned out. We worked really hard on getting a lot of yards in and focused on a lot of base work,” Cebula said.

Looking at next year, the team is hoping to once again become conference champions by working harder and getting faster splits.

“So we’re definitely going to be working on improving and making sure that we don’t slack off just because we got to one year doesn’t mean next year,” Cebula said.