With the words “Have fun, swim fast,” head swimming and diving coach and professor of physics Jonathan Powers keeps it simple. Before every meet, that’s the extent of his pre-meet speech and also what is on the back of the team’s t-shirts.
The swimming and diving team has been in regular season since October. Throughout the season, they have competed in multiple meets and are now preparing for the end of the season. The Midwest Conference Tournament meet is the last one of the season and will be Feb. 15-17, hosted at Grinnell College.
As of right now, preparations include tapering, which is going from the intense workouts at the beginning of the season to easier workouts and getting proper rest for their bodies. Although neither the men or women have won a meet, they have seen a lot of individual success.
However, the preparations for the tournament have been difficult because the pool was shut down on Saturday and not reopened until Tuesday. The three-day gap was luckily bridged due to the local YMCA allowing the teams to come in and practice.
Senior Sosy Fleming is most focused on getting the best times for the last meet. Fleming has done big things for the team. At the meet against Beloit College on Feb. 2, Fleming placed second in the women’s 50 freestyle with a time of 28.62 seconds and placed third in the 500 freestyle.
“Since I’m a senior, I’d like to do my best at this point. If possible, I’d like to do better than the four years I’ve been here,” Fleming said.
Another big name for the swim program is senior Halle Gerash. In the meet against Beloit, Gerash placed first in the women’s 1650 freestyle with a time of 21:19.86. She placed first in the 500 freestyle as well. Since Gerash is a distance swimmer, she doesn’t taper. She has to keep up her endurance and do a little more in practice than the other swimmers.
“I swim distance, I want to cut more time this weekend. I cut a minute off my mile time last week so I’m hoping to do better. Especially on my 500 so I can do well there,” Gerash said.
As far as plans for this weekend go, Powers has his own coaching methods and ideas. The team is focused on their starts and turns right now to make sure they are as fast as possible.
“We don’t have the depth to compete with the other teams in the conference, but it is nice that swimming is an individual sport and my hope is for them to swim fast and see them drop time,” Powers said. “There’s a great group of seniors who have worked hard over four years. I want to see them swim their fastest times of their college career.”
Senior Julia Steen thinks the team will earn some points during relay races and can also gain some points due to other teams false starting.
“That’s where Knox really shines. Sometimes, we’ll get as high as fifth or sixth because other teams false start,” Steen said.
For junior Melissa Wood, recovering from a hip surgery last year has been tough on her career and she is still on the road to recovery. Wood made sure to highlight the importance of getting enough sleep during this taper.
“Sleep is just as important to prepare for this weekend,” Wood said. “Personal best is always the goal, but I took last season off to recover from hip surgery so take my time and do my best and come back as strong as I can.”
The swim team will travel to Grinnell College and compete from Feb. 15-17.