As the swimming season drew to a close last weekend, with the women’s team finishing seventh at the MWC Championships and the men finishing ninth, several storylines bubbled to the surface.
The continued dominance of sophomore Madeline Bruce is perhaps the easiest storyline to pursue; Bruce has won a trio of Prairie Fire Performer of the Week awards in her time at Knox and pretty much swept the women’s swimming awards last season as a freshman. Bruce concluded this season with a fifth place performance in the 200-meter butterfly in addition to a sixth place finish in the 100-meter butterfly, seventh place in the 50-meter freestyle and was a part of the 400-meter freestyle relay team that placed seventh.
However, while Bruce may have served as a leading force in allowing for Knox to place seventh on the women’s side, Head Coach Jonathan Powers described the team’s performance as far more than just the dominance of a single individual. Sophomore Clarice Bernett, who had an exceptional weekend herself, echoed Powers’ comments, noting the strong community mentality the team takes. Despite seventh and ninth place finishes, Bernett still came out of the weekend feeling positively.
“I definitely believe the team lived up to its potential,” Bernett said. “Even though we are all at different levels of skill, we appreciate and support what each individual brings to the team. While one person may not do as well at a meet as another, the support creates a great atmosphere for hard work and success which only helps people get better at what they swim. I am very proud to be a part of a team that makes it so easy to live up to our potential.”
The team will, however, have some big shoes to fill. There are five seniors on the men’s side and six on the women’s side who lead the team both during and outside of meets.
“The seniors will definitely be missed,” Bennett said. “They are each wonderful pieces of the team, not only with the talent that they bring, but also as individuals. I am honored to have raced and practiced alongside them for these past two seasonsÉ We will also be losing a lot of talent, but I have no doubt that everyone else on the team will step up, as we did last year when those seniors left.”