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SMC Swimming: Young team opens season

Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Belles launched their 2012-13 season Friday night at the non-scoring MIAA Relays at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Belles coach Mark Benishek said he was pleased with how well the team competed.

“We had some great swims at the conference relay meet,” Benishek said. “There were strong swims across the board. We are on track and ahead of schedule compared to last year.”

Seniors Liz Palmer, Ellie Watson and freshman Paige Handy put forth strong performance. The trio placed fourth in the 1500 freestyle relay with a time of 17:20.17.

“I’m excited about what I see out of [Palmer, Watson and Handy],” Benishek said. “They swam very well in their relay.”
The Belles also made a splash in the diving portion of Friday’s events. Freshman Andrea Canacci became the first-ever diver to compete for Saint Mary’s. Assistant coach Ping Tong instructs Canacci.

“We have a diver this year, so we get points no matter what in that category,” Benishek said. “We have never before had a diver. [Andrea] is making great strides. [Tong] said she is continuously improving and getting better.”

Four Belles relay teams took sixth place on Friday. Palmer, Watson and seniors Liz Litke and Kristyn Gerbeth finished in 2:27.31 in the 200-meter breaststroke relay. Litke, sophomore Sarah Thompson and freshmen Carolyn Neville and Emily Brown recorded a time of 5:02.04 in the 500-meter freestyle relay. Gerbeth, Litke, Watson and senior Genevieve Spittler finished in 2:01.23 in the 200-meter butterfly relay. Brown, Gerbeth, Litke and freshman Megan Knobloch recorded a time of 1:08.54 in the 100-meter breaststroke relay.

Saint Mary’s 15-person roster contains seven freshmen. Benishek said he liked the performances of his first-year swimmers.

“With about half of our team being freshmen, it was good to see them swimming well in their first meet,” Benishek said.
Benishek said the Belles will continue to work on the basics.
“It’s early on in the season, so we will continue to add some more strength and work on [cardiovascular conditioning],” he said. “These are things every team works on and it’s what we build upon.”

The Belles will compete in their first scoring meet against Albion in Albion, Mich., on Friday.

Contact at Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu