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SMC Swimming: Star to go abroad in spring

Chris Masoud | Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Although expectations have never been high for the Belles, the team’s core of young talent may lead the squad to its best ever finish in the MIAA. The team has never placed better than fifth overall, a pattern Belles coach Alicia Dombkowski would like to change this season.

“Hopefully this year we can maybe get into fourth, which will probably be between Saint Mary’s and Olivet,” Dombkowski said.

The Belles are coming off a solid performance at the Calvin Invitational last weekend, finishing sixth at the 11-team event. Saint Mary’s logged a score of 98, which proved to be too little to outlast MIAA rival Calvin and first-place Grand Valley.

Nevertheless, the Belles were led by the outstanding performances of several individuals who are turning some heads around the league. Sophomore Audrey Dalrymple handed in the top individual finish for the Belles, earning a sixth-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:26:92 against Division I, II and III competitors.

“I think they did very well,” Dombkowski said. “Audrey made a national meet cut, which is very good for this time of the season, but she’s also going abroad next semester, so she won’t be with us. But they all swam very well, including Ellie Watson and Katie Griffin. A lot of them had season-best times.”

With Dalrymple out of the mix, the Belles will rely heavily on the performances of Watson and Griffin, two very promising freshmen, in order to finish in the top half of the league.

“They’re two freshmen and a sophomore, so they’re very young, but they definitely lead the team at practice and at the meets,” Dombkowski said. “They’re very dedicated and work hard all the time. Griffin is very close to two school records, and Ellie is very good as well, so they bring a lot of upfront talent to the team.”

The Belles will have a month off until their next conference match against Hope, a perennial contender for the league title. As the season progresses, Domkowski said looks forward to the challenges of competing in the MIAA.

“Hope is a very good team, normally finishing first or second in the conference every year,” Dombkowski said. “It will definitely be a tough meet, especially since it will be coming off an event where they will be swimming doubles, so they’ll probably be pretty tired. The next day we have a meet against Olivet, which should be a close meet because Olivet and us are more evenly matched.”