The swim and dive teams host the Phoenix Fall Classic this weekend at the Myers-McLoraine Pool, featuring teams from William Jewell, Lake Forest, Illinois Tech, and Hillsdale. The South Siders are poised for an auspicious showing, as both squads have had great results in their last competitions. The women beat a DI team for the first time since the Maroons became DIII, and lost by a very close margin to UAA rival Wash U. Despite a slightly less successful season so far, the men’s team has also seen some exceptional individual swims throughout their meets.
The first-years particularly have enjoyed great success since the beginning of their season in late October. On the men’s side, in their first meet of the season, first-year Aaron Guo broke a school record in the 1000-yard freestyle and first-year Reona Yamaguchi won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke. These first-years continued their winning streak in their second meet. Guo swam in a first place 400-yard freestyle relay and Yamaguchi won the 200-yard breaststroke again. Classmate George Reuter also stepped up and topped the competition in the 200-yard butterfly.
Guo took first in three different events against Wash U, Yamaguchi tied for first in one, and first-year Taye Baldinazzo won the 500-yard freestyle.
The first-year women have also been making a splash. Nicole Garcia, Yifan Mao, and Audrey Mason have been consistent top performers in their first college season. Garcia has been victorious at least once in all three meets of the season so far, winning the 100-yard butterfly twice and swimming a leg in a victorious 400-yard medley relay.
Mao has been impressively consistent as well, helping bring home two victories in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay. Mason has had remarkable past two meets, posting four victories total across the 500-, 1000-, and 1650-yard freestyles. Diving has proven a force to be reckoned with as well, as first-year Agnes Lo has posted NCAA zone qualifying scores in her past two meets as well as winning the one and three-meter dives once each.
Guo, reflecting on his and the team’s success, attributes it to the team’s fantastic team spirit and culture. “The team captains and coaches have cultivated an atmosphere of encouragement and positivity where all swimmers strive to swim their best,” he said.
Looking forward to the meet this weekend, he stressed the importance of mental preparation. “We just need to prepare ourselves for three days of grueling racing. We must be cognizant of the minutiae outside of swimming; eating healthily, sleeping well, and engaging in proper recovery,” said Guo. “Establishing these habits now will serve as good preparation for our more important championship meets, such as UAAs and NCAAs.”
Yamaguchi echoed his teammate’s sentiments but also stressed the energy that the squad has. “The team has been training with a new attitude, looking for redemption of sorts,” he said.
This meet is especially important for the South Siders as these times can help them qualify for the NCAA Championship early. Also, this is the team’s last meet for a month as they take a break for finals and winter break. The teams will be in action Friday through Sunday in their home pool.