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SMC Swimming and Diving: Belles face challenging weekend

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, November 3, 2011

There will be no rest for weary Belles this weekend as Saint Mary’s takes on a strong conference foe and a Division I opponent, all with a bus ride and less than 16 hours in between.

The Belles (0-1, 0-1 MIAA) are set to face Hope (2-1, 2-0) in a conference dual meet at home at 7 p.m. tonight, then make the quick turnaround to get to their dual meet against Valparaiso (0-4) at 11 a.m. Saturday. Despite the lack of recovery time, Belles coach Mark Benishek said this is not a split squad situation — the team needs every swimmer in the pool.

“We’re all swimming,” Benishek said. “We don’t have as much depth as other teams in our conference have, so we definitely have to swim everybody, whether we’re traveling or at home.”

Benishek said that the races between Flying Dutch senior co-captain Sarah Sohn and Belles senior Audrey Dalrymple should be some of the most exciting of the night.

“She’s a really, really good distance swimmer and [individual medley] swimmer,” Benishek said of Sohn. “Audrey Dalrymple, one of our senior captains, went head-to-head with her in (the) conference, and she was touched out at the end in that race for the 400-m [individual medley], so there’ll probably be some of that good competition for her at the meet on Friday.”

Saturday will be the first time Valparaiso and Saint Mary’s have met for a dual meet, but Benishek said the Belles are not intimidated by the Crusaders’ Division I status.

We’ve seen them at invitationals and stuff like that, but this will be the first time head-to-head,” Benishek said. “I think what it comes down to is just some of the talent they have on their team. They’re still respectably within our reach, and they’re within the range of a lot of the talent we have in our conference.”

“They do attend some of the large invitationals that we host in our conference — we’ll see them again at the Calvin Invite — but I think talent-wise and (the) size of the roster, I think they’re a pretty good match-up for us this coming Saturday, and I think it could be a pretty close meet from what I’ve seen so far.”

While the Belles will barely have time to dry off between their two meets, Valparaiso hasn’t seen action since the Indiana Intercollegiates Oct. 15. Still, Benishek said he is confident that his team won’t shrink from the Crusaders.

“I think we have a strong group of girls here and I think they are definitely steps beyond where they were last year, so we’re looking for some good things this weekend,” Benishek said.

The Belles take to the water against the Flying Dutch at Rolfs Aquatic Center 7 p.m. tonight and challenge the Crusaders at Valparaiso’s Athletics-Recreation Center at 11 a.m. Saturday.