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Belles trek to Holland for MIAAs

Anna Fricano | Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Saint Mary’s swimming team hit the road Wednesday afternoon to travel to the Holland Community Aquatic Center in Holland, Mich., to compete in the MIAA Conference Championship.

The three-day event begins this morning with swimmers taking to the water for preliminary events at 10 a.m. The day kicks off with the 200-yard freestyle relay, followed by the 500-yard freestyle. The afternoon will play host to a variety of events, including the 200-yard individual medley and the 50-yard freestyle.

Junior Sarah Nowak has been an especially strong swimmer for the Belles this season in the individual medley and will likely be an essential factor in a strong start for Saint Mary’s, who fell to two conference opponents – Albion and Calvin Colleges – in its last meet. Following the individual medley, sophomore Nicole Korte, who has had a successful first season swimming with the Belles, can be counted on for a strong performance in the 50-yard freestyle. Korte has been fairly consistent for the team in achieving high finishes in the sprint events throughout the season.

Competition will continue into Friday and Saturday, with a total of 20 women’s events taking place during the meet.

Friday will begin with the 200-yard medley relay and move into such events as the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke. The last race on Friday will be the 800-yard freestyle relay. The last day of the meet will open up with the event’s longest race, the 1,650-yard freestyle.

Most recently, freshman Lisa Balog has been swimming the long-distance events for the Belles, with a time of 20 minutes, 5.83 in the 1,650-yard freestyle when the team competed in the Maroon Invitational in November.

The 200-yard breaststroke will also take place on Saturday, and the competition will conclude with the 400-yard freestyle relay. Preliminaries begin daily at 10 a.m. and finals begin at 6 p.m.

As of now, undefeated Calvin College sits at the top of the MIAA standings. Hope, Kalamazoo, Olivet and Albion are all ahead of the Belles. Saint Mary’s is at sixth place in the conference, with Alma College coming in at seventh.

The conference season has provided a combination of ups and downs for the Belles, but overall the program has made significant strides since last season. Saint Mary’s posted its first conference victory in over a year on Jan. 15 when it defeated Alma College by a score of 51-49.

Although the competition against Kalamazoo College appeared to be a significant defeat on paper, the Belles captured five first-place finishes against one of the strongest programs in the conference.

Although the meet will not likely change Saint Mary’s position in the conference standings, the Belles are in position to achieve high individual and team finishes in several of the events.