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SMC Swimming: Belles lose to Kalamazoo

Cory Bernard | Monday, November 1, 2010

The Belles lost to Kalamazoo Friday in their first MIAA meet of the season, 170-89.

Despite the loss, Saint Mary’s coach Mark Benishek said he saw some bright spots.

“We had some really, really good swims,” he said.

Sophomore Ellie Watson and Junior Megan Price are responsible for two of the highlights from Friday’s action. Watson and Price took first and second in the 1,000 freestyle in 11:19.44 and 11:36.58, respectively.

Sophomore Katie Griffin took first place in the 100 backstroke two events later in a time of 1:02.81.

Sophomore sprinter Kristyn Gerbeth turned in another one of the strong swims her coach was referring to, achieving a personal best time in the 100 Freestyle.

“[Gerbeth] really stepped up and that 100 free was her shining moment,” Benishek said. “It was great to see especially because she was someone we had to do a lot of stroke work with to correct some things. I told her I thought she could be a great sprinter. Her work really paid off.”

In the same way that Gerbeth’s individual work has yielded dividends, so too has an increased focus on team chemistry. Benishek said his squad’s unity is evident in the support each of the swimmers has for each other during meets.

“We did a lot of teambuilding early on, and I think you’re seeing that show itself now,” Benishek said. “There’s a lot of support behind the girls when they’re racing, from talking with each other about the next race or after a race.”

Saint Mary’s has a few weeks to regroup after the loss, returning to action for a three-day meet on Nov. 19 at the University of Chicago Invitational. The meet will feature a competitive range of schools, a challenge Benishek said he welcomes.

“The next two invitationals we have — the Chicago Invite and the Calvin Invite — those are some bigger invitationals,” he said. “That’s why I approved some of those. It’s good to get after it and compete against the best teams in our conference and the best teams in D-III. It’s good to set the bar high, and see how our girls respond to the challenge set forth in front of them.”