Knox swimming has had three different coaches in three years, but with new coach Jonathan Powers at the helm, the team is starting to break records. The season ended with the Midwest Conference (MWC) Swimming and Diving Championships on Sunday, where the women’s team placed fourth and the men’s team placed eighth. The women broke five school records this year at the MWC Championships.
Sophomore Bess Cooley broke the school record in the 200-breaststroke with a time of 2:28.64. Junior Emilie Perrot broke the school record in the 200-backstroke with a time of 2:14.92.
Three school relay records were also set in the 200-medley relay, 800-freestyle relay and 400-medley relay. The 200-medley relay team was Perrot, Cooley and sophomores Anne Heberle and Rachel Clark with a time of 1:56.76, which was half a second faster than the record set earlier this year. The 800-freestyle relay was swum by Cooley, Clark and sophomores Laura Blue and Tory Kassabaum with a time of 8:24.76, 12 seconds faster than the previous school record. Kassabaum, Cooley, Perrot and Heberle were the 400-medley relay team and swam 4:15.80, five seconds less than the previous school record.
Senior and co-captain Lu Yaeger is very proud of how the team did in the MWC Championships and feels that she personally had her best meet ever.
Yaeger competed in the 200-individual medley, 400-individual medley and 200-butterfly. She was most proud of her butterfly swim because she dropped nine seconds. It was the last race of the day and her last college race ever so everyone cheering made the event even more exciting.
Kassabaum’s two favorite parts of the meet were Cooley placing first in the 200-breaststroke, beating out Grinnell and Powers crying while giving a motivational speech at the beginning of the meet which led to many members of the team crying as well.
“It was really sweet,” Kassabaum said.
The members of the team felt that Powers was a great asset to their team.
Sara Dreiser, the other senior co-captain, said that this is her first year since joining the swim team that it has been this solid.
“It is easy to push yourself as hard as you can with such a good coach,” she said.
Yaeger said that they improved because of larger numbers and more competitive swimmers like Cooley and Perrot.
Powers also changed the team mentally, Yaeger said. He gave them self-motivation because they wanted to make him proud.
Kassabaum said that since Powers is passionate about swimming he made the team passionate about it. The team became like a family, which made her want to work hard for more than just herself, which in turn helped her drop her times.
Cooley attributes her teammates, competitors, and coaches with helping her to break the swim records she did. She explains that breaking records has to be more than just pushing yourself.
Powers said that there was one practice in December when they did 100-one hundreds, which is six miles of swimming. The swimmers did it without complaining and with enthusiasm. He was “thrilled with how well we did and the amount of fun they had with one another and the support they gave to one another.”
As for the women’s team having more tangible success than the men’s team, Powers said he does not make a distinction between the male and female teams. He said it was the women’s team that was successful, but that had to do a lot with some of the men such as sophomores Tyler O’Neill and Jeff Wickman who pushed the women hard.
O’Neill seconded that sentiment. He said the women totally deserve the attention, but many men swimmers achieved personal bests and had good conference swim times. He feels the men’s and women’s teams are mutually helpful in practice.
“We feed off of each other,” he said.
Next year, Cooley wants the team to keep going in the direction that they are headed. Kassabaum is looking forward to letting new people into the swimming family and forming bonds with new teammates.
Powers said that the enthusiasm of the team is as important as success in the water. He hopes to maintain the enthusiasm next year.
Powers says it is hard to say what next year will be like because a lot of team members are going abroad.
Drieser left some parting words for her former teammates.
“It’s hard work but enjoy it,” she said.