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SMC Swimming: Belles fall to Calvin

Lorenzo Reyes | Monday, January 29, 2007

Saint Mary’s fell short to Calvin, 129-86, Friday at South Bend’s Washington High School.

It was the Belles third straight defeat in MIAA action.

The Knights were able to come out on top for seven of the eleven swimming events. They had six different swimmers win individual events, and won the 200-meter medley relay.

Calvin was also able to secure valuable second and third place finishes in many events.

Freshman Sara Niemann provided a brigh spot for Saint Mary’s. Niemann won the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 26.95 and the 100 yard backstroke in 1:07.13.

The Belles also won the 100-meter breaststroke as junior Kelly Tighe posted a time of 1:16.22 and the 1000-meter freestyle as Melissa Gerbeth posted a time of 11:03.88.

Belles coach Ryan Dombkowski also found positives in swimmers that didn’t win.

“[Freshman] Meredith Lierz had a fantastic swim in the 100 free as did [sophomore] Jennifer Nicol in the 100 butterfly,” Dombkowski.

Niemann talked about the mindset entering the meet and some of her personal goals.

“For this meet against Calvin, I think everyone had the mindset that we would have the chance to compete against some very fast swimmers,” she said. “Personally, I wanted a chance to compete in some of my weaker events before conference, and have some fast competition to race.”

Despite the loss, Coach Dombkowski said he thinks the team has improved this season.

“I think we’ve made great progress both in and out of the water,” he said. “Only 4 of our current team members were on the on the squad last year, meaning basically our whole team was new.

“After almost a complete season, we’re not only better in the water in just about every event, but we’re better as a unit as well.”

Niemann said she is excited about the young team’s potential in future years.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from Saint Mary’s coming into the season,” she said. “But as the season comes to a close, I couldn’t be happier. Everyone has worked hard to improve and I excited to see what happens at conference, and what next year will bring. We’ve become more competitive and hopefully we can get even stronger next year.”

However, before the Belles can worry about the off-season and next year, they have the MIAA Swimming & Diving Championships in Grand Rapids, MI from February 8-10.

“We’ll need to focus on improving the little aspects of our races; starts, turns, finishes, etc,” Dombkowski said of his team’s chances in Grand Rapids. “We’ve already started resting a bit to get our bodies physically ready to be our best, but we also have to focus on strategy and getting our minds mentally prepared for the championships as well.

“A three-day meet with prelims in the morning and finals at night can be both physically and mentally exhausting, so we’ll have to be prepared for the challenges ahead.”