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SMC Swimming and Diving: Belles to host upstart Defiance

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saint Mary’s may be a member of the nation’s oldest collegiate conference, but the Belles will face a brand new Defiance team at their dual meet this Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets swimming and diving team (1-2) competed for the first time Oct. 29 when they beat Ursuline and lost to Alma at home. Defiance lost its dual meet at home against Franklin Nov. 5, and the Blue Jackets are scheduled to host Baldwin-Wallace on Friday night before traveling to South Bend for their first road meet in school history.

Although Defiance is an unknown entity at this point, Belles coach Mark Benishek said he expects good races from both teams.

“I’m not very familiar with their team,” he said. “I know that they just started a program this year. I’ll go out on a limb and say I think all [the races] are going to be pretty exciting. I’m really looking forward to this meet. I think their team is going to have some fast swims across the board here, but I think the backstroke and the IM are going to be neck-to-neck with some good competition, along with the 50 Free.”

The Belles (0-3) are still looking for their first dual meet victory of their season. Although Benishek said he was pleased by the results of individuals so far this season, he wants to see times continue to drop.

“We’re always looking to improve, and definitely going into this weekend I think we should see some good times,” he said. “It’s been a pretty hard week for us training-wise, but we’re ready to swim hard going into this meet. We’re just about at the midpoint of the season here, so I think we should see some good times from the girls.”

Benishek said the weekend should be relatively restful for a Saint Mary’s squad that competed in two meets last weekend and powered through a hard week in the practice pool.

“It was a tough week on the girls, if you would ask them,” he said. “We had some very hard swims Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday we backed off a little bit, but there’s still plenty of fast swimming going on. We’re still kind of building up for the two large invites we have coming up here at the beginning of Thanksgiving break.”

Although Saint Mary’s does not have a stellar dual meet record this fall, Benishek said he was pleased with the personal improvements by his athletes, especially those who were willing to switch races for the sake of the team.

“There’s been improvement in every aspect,” he said. “We’ve definitely seen a lot from our freshman, Anna Nolan — she’s accepted the role of backstroker. We lost a lot of backstrokers this past year so she’s filling the void in the sprint area. She’s made some great, great, great times.

Benishek said junior Kristyn Gerbeth also stepped up and, though she was a sprint freestyler the past two years, she tried butterfly this year.

“She kind of shocked the entire team with some of her times, so we’re really looking for some great things out of her going into some of these bigger meets,” Benishek said.

The Belles will host the Yellow Jackets’ first away meet in program history at Rolfs Aquatic Center at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu