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SMC Swimming: Belles looking for first win of season

Bill Brink | Friday, November 10, 2006

Saint Mary’s hopes to notch its first win of the young season against Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute Saturday.The 0-3 Belles have dropped meets to Olivet, Hope and Carthage so far this year. Facing an 0-1 Rose-Hulman team may provide an opportunity to turn their season around.First-year coach Ryan Dombkowski sees similarities between Rose-Hulman and Saint Mary’s.”Rose-Hulman is a team that, like Saint Mary’s, struggles with depth,” Dombkowski said. “We’re not quite deep enough to be extremely competitive in our conference.”The scoring system in swimming is heavily weighted toward first-place finishes, Dombkowski said, but the deciding factor of the meet will lie in every result – not just wins.”A battle for every position [including second through fifth] results in multiple point swings in either direction,” he said. “Winning these battles will be the key to winning the meet.”Attitude and focus will play a large role on Saturday as well, according to sophomore Melissa Gerbeth.”The team needs to get in focus on Saturday and get in the mindset that they can do whatever they put their mind to,” said Gerbeth, a distance freestyle and individual medley swimmer. “They also need to have confidence in themselves.”Saint Mary’s has a young team, including only one senior. Of the six swimmers who have won individual events this year, four are freshmen. “On Saturday, I’m looking forward to a young team coming together to support one another to put the pieces together for a dual meet victory,” Dombkowski said.The team has had some success this season. The 200-meter freestyle relay team, composed of Gerbeth, junior Kelly Tighe and freshmen Lindsey Nelis and Sara Niemann, placed first against Hope. The Belles took that same event the next day against Carthage, this time with Gerbeth, Nelis, freshmen Meredith Lierz and junior Amy Mahoney.Dombkowksi expects the relay to be important yet again against Rose-Hulman.”Both relays will be crucial,” he said. “Not just our top team, but our second teams as well.”Gerbeth placed first in the 500-meter freestyle against Olivet and in the 1000-meter freestyle against Carthage. Tighe, Nelis and freshmen Katie Ferguson and Katie Carroll have all won races for the Belles.To Gerbeth, however, the meet still comes down to the right mindset.”I’ve prepared by practicing hard, lifting and being positive,” she said. “If you are not positive about swimming fast then you might as well not even get in the water.”