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SMC Swimming: Belles to compete in relays to open season

Cory Bernard | Friday, October 8, 2010

Saint Mary’s heads into the 2010-11 season looking to improve upon last year’s last place finish in the MIAA. The Belles enter the fall under new leadership, as new head coach Mark Benishek was hired in September to lead the program.

As an assistant director of RecSports at Notre Dame, Benishek oversees the day-to-day operations of the Rolfs Aquatic Center and the Rockne Memorial pool. He will continue to fulfill those duties while guiding a Belles swimming and diving squad that has established 40 new top five all-time Saint Mary’s performances over the past two seasons.

Benishek and his pupils will have their work cut out for them, as senior diver Laura Powell is the lone fourth-year on the youth-laden roster.

The young Belles, however, will be bolstered by sophomore distance swimmer Ellie Watson. The second year swimmer from Grand Rapids, Mich., was the lone Saint Mary’s representative on the All-MIAA swimming and diving team as a freshman and made the league championship final in each of her events.

The Belles kick off their season at the Dennis Stark Relays, which pays homage to coach Dennis Stark, the Irish men’s swimming and diving coach from 1958-85. Saint Mary’s will compete alongside D-1 opponents Illinois State, Valparaiso and Notre Dame. Races are set to begin at 5 p.m.