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SMC Swimming: Coach says small team can succeed

Katie Heit | Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coming into his second season as head coach, Mark Benishek is ready to take his small squad to big lengths.

“We have a lot of returning girls,” said Benishek. “We still have a smaller squad this season, but we have some really strong swimmers, and some of our new additions are really starting to show promise.”

The Belles finished their 2010-11 season ranked fifth in the MIAA conference after a strong run to end the season. The team had a slow start, but ended the season at the MIAA Swimming and Diving Championships, placing fifth out of seven teams despite presenting no divers for competition.

For the first time in Saint Mary’s history, two players — now senior Audrey Dalrymple and former senior Ellie Watson — were both named to the All-MIAA team. Dalrymple returns this year with fellow seniors Katie Donovan and Megan Price as co-captains.

“All three are returning captains, so they hold a large leadership role,” Benishek said. “They are great examples in the water and out, especially for the new swimmers joining the team.”

The Belles will face their first competition Oct. 22, when they will race against the other teams in the MIAA Relays. Benishek said he hopes to improve his team’s results this season.

“I think that the goal always is to shoot for a higher, loftier goals no matter where you are,” Benishek said. “We had those goals set and we have a lot of strong swimmers still returning.”

The size of the Belles squad is still a worry for Benishek. The team is composed of 11 swimmers and has no divers. But he said having a small squad can also have its benefits.

“I wish there was a little more depth, but we’re such a small squad,” Benishek said. “The girls are very strong and very close to one another. They are a tight and unique unit and that makes us strong and helps us to achieve some of those goals individuals and as a team as a whole.”

The Belles will hit the pool Oct. 22 at the MIAA Relays in Holland, Mich. while their first dual meet is Oct. 28 against Kalamazoo at home.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu