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SMC Swimming: Season begins with relays

Marie Bugnitz | Friday, October 19, 2007

With the end of fall break comes the beginning of Saint Mary’s season.

The Belles are set to swim in their first competition in a relay meet in Holland, Mich., against several other teams from the MIAA.

Coach Ryan Dombkowski said this first meet was really “just for fun” and is the “first taste of competition for the season” for the Belles.

Led by senior captains Kelly Tighe and Tracy Kosmala, and junior Melissa Gerberth, Saint Mary’s should have a strong season, Dombkowski said.

“Last year, almost every swimmer on the team swam lifetime bests, and I expect to see that trend continue,” Dombkowski said. “All-in-all, I will be happy to see us all work hard, be competitive, and have fun.”

That sort of attitude defines Dombkowski’s technique of coaching – and the Belles have taken well to that method.

“[They’re] willing to work hard, want to swim fast, and want to have fun,” Dombkowski said.

With 27 swimmers and five divers on the team, Dombkowski believes the 2007-08 Belles squad is as talented a team as Saint Mary’s has ever had.

“We return all of our individual conference scorers,” Dombkowski said. “Plus we’ve added several new faces that have the ability to score at conference championships as well. … As a team, we’ve never finished higher than fifth in our conference, and I believe this team has the potential to surpass that mark.”

Dombkowski said he was happy with the efficiency of practices leading up to the season.

“Although swimming is often thought of as an individual sport, practices and competition for spots in line-ups and on relays play a huge role into determining the success of a team,” Dombkowski said. “During our first several weeks, I have seen some great competition day-in and day-out in practice that should propel our team to even more success.”

Swimmers to watch include Gerberth in the distance freestyle and freshman Casey Niezer in the individual medley and backstroke events. Both show the potential to qualify for the national championships this year, Dombkowski said. He also said there were more swimmers in every class that will “add to the depth” of the team, including junior diver Leah Bocinsky and freshmen Maggie Williams and Lauren Hartman.

After the relay meet, Saint Mary’s will go to Chicago on Nov. 2 to compete against the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology. The following day, the Belles will travel to Crawfordsville, Ind., to compete against Illinois Wesleyan and Rose-Hulman.