It’s that time of year again: both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving squads are preparing for their annual Phoenix Fall Classic, where the Maroons will compete against seven other Midwest schools over a period of three days.
Though the season just started in early October, the men and women are already off to a promising start, both squads winning their first two meets. The men’s team took the W at Wheaton in early November (147–97) and again a week later at home versus Wash U (190.5–94.5). The women also clinched two wins against the same schools (130–118 and 157–139 respectively).
The South Siders are as strong as ever. Their determination and endurance have cultivated much success thus far, and it is understood among the athletes that they must maintain this work ethic going into this weekend.
“This is the first taste of what conference will be like. It reminds us why we work so hard and put in all the hours we do,” said third-year captain Sofia Gross. “There’s no better feeling than when we come together as a team, and that always happens at the Phoenix Fall Classic.”
As the physical training becomes more intense, the relationships outside the pool have also grown stronger. The first-year swimmers have integrated into the team and are anticipated to perform well.
“The first years have become a vital part of the team,” second-year Bryan Bunning said. Bunning, along with his teammates, looks forward to watching the newcomers compete this weekend, possibly even shattering a few records in the near future.
First-year Mantim Lee and second-year Brian Weisbecker have been out of practice on the men’s side. Their return to practice and eventually to competition will be critical, as they are key members of the team.
In the past, Chicago has raced well at Phoenix, often beating several DI and DII schools. Second-year free relay record-holder Jenna Harris believes this weekend will not be an anomaly. She detailed the Maroons’ exhaustive workout routines, saying, “I am confident we will kill it.”
Even with this confidence, the Maroons still prioritize the necessity of concentration. “More than anything, this invitational will be a mental meet,” Harris said. “[Our] swimmers are as competitive as anyone, and when we want something, we will put our heads down and get to the wall faster than any other team.”
With the guidance of head swim coach Jason Weber and head diving coach Kendra Melnychuk, the Maroons won’t lose their focus over the next few days. This is especially crucial as the team may be able to qualify early in the season for Nationals, not to mention those going for team records.
“This is a great last meet to have leading into training trip, so we know where we want to be coming back from training trip into the heart of our season,” Gross said. The season is officially in full gear.
The Phoenix Fall Classic will start at 6 p.m. Friday and will continue all day Saturday and Sunday at the Myers-McLoraine Pool.