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SMC Swimming: Gerbeth shines, Belles finish sixth in MIAAs

Lorenzo Reyes | Monday, February 12, 2007

The Belles’ season ended Saturday with a sixth-place finish at this weekend’s MIAA championships in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Belles received 133 points to finish sixth out of seven teams, but well short of first-place Calvin, which dominated the competition with 675.5 points.

Sophomore Melissa Gerbeth became only the second swimmer in Saint Mary’s history to win an individual event at the conference meet, taking the 1,650-yard freestyle with a personal best 17:51.31. She is the first winner since Megan Ramsey won the 100-yard butterfly in 2003. Gerbeth also earned a third-place finish in the 400-yard individual medley and a fifth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle.

Andrea Keller of Hope finished second in the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 18:00.89, while the Belles’ Lindsey Nelis placed 10th in 18:43.79.

The team was pleased with the weekend showing, Gerbeth said.

“The MIAAs was an amazing meet for all of our team,” Gerbeth said. “Almost everyone dropped time in their events, and Saint Mary’s did better in scoring than they have in a long time. I dropped time in my events as well and did a lot better both with my times and placing than what I expected.”

Gerbeth also credited her the teammates with keeping each other focused, which helped her attain individual success.

“Our team was so supportive of one another at the meet, and that contributed a lot to everyone being a little more relaxed going into their events,” Gerbeth said.

Though the Belles finished toward the bottom of the league this weekend, Gerbeth said she hopes her first-place finish will steer the team in the right direction.

“Hopefully my win in the mile will give Saint Mary’s swimming a little more respect, and we will start building up the program to be more competitive with the teams like Calvin and Hope.”

Gerbeth said she looks forward to next year to see the maturation of a young team with the new coaching staff.

“Going in at the beginning, I think everyone was a little apprehensive because the team was made up of mainly new swimmers, and there was a new coaching staff,” she said. “It took everyone awhile to adjust to everything and everyone, but we had a lot of bonding time and became really comfortable.”