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SMC Swimming: Saint Mary’s starts year at Conference Relays

Katie Heit | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Belles started their 2011 season with a strong showing at the MIAA Conference Relays at the Holland Aquatic Center on Saturday. Though there were no scores given out at the meet, Saint Mary’s got a glimpse into their potential for the upcoming competitive events.

Junior Kristyn Gerbeth, sophomore Sarah Thompson, freshman Anna Nolan and senior Katie Donovan combined for the 500 freestyle relay and finished fifth overall (5:09.58). The Belles raked in another successful relay performance in the 200 butterfly, in which Gerbath, junior Genevieve Spittler, junior Liz Litke and senior Audrey Dalyrump finished just .49 seconds behind the fifth place team from Albion.

“We had some good swims across the board,” Belles coach Mark Benishek said. “We came off of a very tough week of training. We were swimming doubles each day and the team put in a lot of energy this past week. It was great to see some of those good times even with the tough week of training.”

Benishek said that he was glad to see strong performances from both new and returning players.

“Anna Nolan, a freshman, had a really nice split time in the 50 [freestyle],” Benishek said. “We also had Katie Donovan. Her 500 split time was quite impressive, especially since she hadn’t swam it since her high school years.”

The Belles swimmers are largely dependent on both the team and individual attitudes for their energy before a competition.

“When it comes to focus, I think the girls individually and collectively are really strong,” Benishek said. “They feed off of each other. I don’t have to motivate them too much. They do a great job of self motivation and keeping up a good attitude going into competition.”

Compared to last season, the Belles seem on their way to a successful campaign.

“We’re stronger physically than where we were at last year. We’re smaller number-wise, but strength-wise collectively I would have to say I’d love to see all of them really step up and set a good standard for the season.”

Saint Mary’s will have its first team competition in a home match against Kalamazoo on Friday at 7 p.m.

Contact Katie Heit at