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Kalamazoo overwhelms SMC

Vicky Jacobsen | Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Belles swam well Friday night, but Saint Mary’s couldn’t keep up with the Hornets and dropped its first dual meet of the season 213-75.

Swimmers from No. 18 Kalamazoo (1-0, 1-0 MIAA) won 14 of the 16 events, but the large margin of victory did not detract from promising performances from Saint Mary’s (0-1, 0-1).

“We had some solid swims,” Belles coach Mark Benishek said. “We’ve had two really hard weeks, and this past week we had some really hard swims practice-wise. We’ve put in a lot of yardage but there were good swims overall from the entire team.”

Benishek predicted tight races between senior captain Audrey Dalrymple and Kalamazoo sophomore Molly DeWald, and the two did not disappoint. Dalrymple finished 2.29 seconds behind DeWald in the 100-yard breaststroke, which DeWald won in 1:08.68. But Dalrymple grabbed a victory of her own in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing in 2:29.30, over three seconds before DeWald.

Dalrymple also accounted for the Belles’ other win, finishing first in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:18.79. She took second place in the 50-yard freestyle and third place in the 200-yard medley relay with junior Genevieve Spittler, senior Megan Price and freshman Anna Nolan, whose performance caught Benishek’s attention.

“We saw some good things out of some of the younger swimmers. One of them to note is Anna Nolan, a freshman. She had very, very good swims,” Benishek said.

In addition to the medley relay, Nolan finished second in both the 100-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle with times of 1:05.34 and 26.44, respectively.

Benishek said that the support team members give each other at practices and meets have a noticeable impact on individual performances during races.

“They challenged each other and they do a really good job of stepping up and encouraging each other, whatever time it might be, so that works out,” Benishek said.

Benishek was also pleased to see his swimmers avoid the mental errors that often hurt teams early in the season.

“They were really focused. We had a good discussion before the meet about that,” Benishek said. “Nobody’s perfect ⎯ they’re going to make mistakes. We talked about that, and it’s what you do afterwards and overcoming it.”

The Belles have largely trained as one team for the first month of the season, but they’ll now focus on the finer points of their individual events.

“We’re going to continue to work hard over the next couple weeks here, because we’re really gearing up for our invitationals that we have coming around Thanksgiving period,” Benishek said. “We’re going to have a lot of hard swims, but we’ll probably start isolating the group down into their strokes. Distance swimmers will break off and do some different workouts than some of our stroke and our sprint freestylers.”

The Belles take to the water next at 7 p.m. Friday as they host Hope at the Rolfs Aquatics Center.