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SMC Swimming & Diving: Belles finish fifth of nine in Fall Classic

Cory Bernard | Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Belles wrapped up the competitive three-day Phoenix Fall Classic at the University of Chicago Sunday, finishing fifth out of nine teams and recovering two spots from the first day of competition.

The host Maroons finished first by a wide margin with 1252 points. Runner-up Lake Forest College finished with 464, while Saint Mary’s earned 296.

Belles sophomore Katie Griffin turned in the best performance of the day, finishing in third place in the final of the 100-yard backstroke event in 1:04.08.

After finishing in seventh place after the first day, the Belles rallied for a fifth place finish in the second day, a result that held steady on Sunday.

Belles coach Mark Benishek attributed much of the improvement between Friday and Saturday to the performance of his distance swimmers.

“Our distance swimmers really stepped it up, they helped us make up some serious points and helped contribute to that fifth place,” he said, noting specifically the work of junior Megan Price and sophomore Ellie Watson.

Benishek also praised the efforts of sophomore Kristyn Gerbeth, a rising star for the Belles.

“Kristyn Gerbeth in the 1600[-yard relay] had a personal record,” Benishek said. “That’s the second week in a row she’s achieved a personal record. She’s slowly climbing her way toward the school record.”

Junior Audrey Dalrymple said some of this success might be attributed to the extra work the Belles put in over Fall Break as the team stayed on campus to train.

“We stayed in South Bend to train over Fall Break. That extra time in the pool helped our team focus in on our goals for the season and put in the necessary practice time,” she said.

According to Benishek, the team can expect to see more intense training as the in-conference portion of the season approaches. However, he revealed that at least a portion of the training during winter would be done in a much warmer climate.

“After the holidays we’re heading down to Florida for a winter training trip from [Jan. 7 to 14],” Benishek said. “We’ll do double practices — mornings and evenings — and we’ll have a chance to really train hard.”

Next up for Saint Mary’s is the Calvin Invitational one week after Thanksgiving. The three-day event in Grand Rapids, Mich. will feature all of the Belles’ fellow MIAA schools.