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SMC Swimming and Diving: Shorthanded Belles back in action in Phoenix

Kate Grabarek | Friday, November 19, 2010

After taking almost a month off, the Belles will head to the University of Chicago to compete in the Phoenix Fall Classic this weekend.

Belles coach Mark Benishek said his team has a small roster.

“We have had some health issues within the last week and a half,” Benishek said. “We have a small roster. We need to stay healthy the rest of the way and we will get the positive results we are hoping for.”

The Belles had a strong opening to the season at Notre Dame’s Dennis Stark Relays, finishing fourth behind three Division I teams, including Notre Dame.

“At the Stark Relays we all used our nerves to our advantage,” junior Katie Donovan said. “We had been working hard and were confident in our abilities individually and as a team. It was the first time this team got to experience a meet together, so we all used our excitement to help us get going.”

With the small numbers on the team, Benishek said the Belles are spending a lot of time in the pool getting experience in different races.

“The team has really come together this year,” Donovan said. “We are smaller in numbers this year so we all know each other well and know what kind of support and challenges we need from one another. Practicing hard together in the pool, cranking out some fast times, and occasionally changing things up with teamwork activities have all maintained a positive outlook on the rest of the season.”

Benishek said he hopes the hard work will pay off this weekend in the Windy City, as he chose to take the team to the University of Chicago Invitational because of the many quick teams that will be competing.

“We wanted to set that bar high,” Benishek said. “We were between this invitational and one in Indianapolis. We chose the quicker meet to get the girls to step up to the plate.”

Saint Mary’s will dive into competition tonight with a 6 p.m. meet start. The event will continue Saturday and Sunday with 10 a.m. scheduled starting times.