Swim team peaks in Minnesota

John Green

It’s crucial to peak at the right time in athletics. In the end, it’s what separates the good teams from the great ones. For the SDSU swim team timing could not be better as their regular season concluded this past Saturday, Feb. 4, in Minneapolis.

“We were all swimming at a high level,” junior Shea Patrick said. “We just felt fast.”

The Jackrabbit swimmers were competing in the annual Minnesota Challenge, an exhibition meet used by teams to fine-tune their times and lineups for the upcoming Summit League Championships. Several athletes had season-best performances or claimed top finishes. On the women’s side, freshman Sam Fossum took first-place honors in the 1650-yard freestyle, while senior Morgan McLain won the 200-yard backstroke.

For some swimmers though, the Challenge marked their final meet of the season, due to league regulations allowing only 18 swimmers to compete per team.

“Many of the swimmers competed in their final meet of the year in Minneapolis,” said head coach Brad Erickson. “It was wonderful to see them end their seasons on a high note. This was their championship.”

The coaching staff was pleased with the performance from sophomore Fawn Weihl. Weihl dealt with off-and-on health issues last year, keeping her from swimming at full strength. But for the meet on Feb. 4, she swam three season bests to cap out her season.

Weihl was in good company, as many other SDSU swimmers set personal records at the meet.  Senior Kaitlyn Hemmingson recorded a full three-second drop in the 200-yard Individual Medley (2:17:04), while sophomore Lexi Temperley and junior Melissa Mielke also contributed to the group of lifetime bests.

The momentum gained from the Minnesota Challenge will need to be built upon, as all thoughts now turn towards the upcoming Summit League Championships, held Feb. 15 to 18 in Rochester, Mich. The meet will feature the top swimmers from the conference, and will pose a stiff challenge to the Jackrabbits.

Focus during practices has shifted, with emphasis in rest and mechanics rather than conditioning and hard training. The swimmers will be using this next week to both mentally and physically ready themselves for the multiple-day meet. Practices will start to look more and more like the actual meet, with distances being swum at race pace.

All of these factors will come into play during the championships, and the meet could come down to those seemingly small things the Jacks are currently stressing.

“We’re in real good shape right now, and we’ve done well the past few weeks,” Erickson said.  “I like where we’re at.”