Road to Nationals
BY: JESSICA COLBY
MSUM swim and dive team competed at the NSIC meet in Rochester, Minnesota. Photo by Jessica Colby
After training for six months, the MSUM Dragon swim and dive team is ready for a break, but not till they finish one last meet – nationals.
Even though the national championship is held in Alabama during Moorhead State’s spring break, the swimmers are ready to make their mark in the pool.
With grit, heart and humility, these ladies intend to finish their year with a bang.
Sullivan paves the way for more to compete
Sullivan swam the 100- and 200-yard backstroke at the NSIC meet in Rochester, Minnesota and will be swimming the events in Alabama. Photo by McKenna Togstad
With the new swimming NCAA rule qualification, MSUM has qualified four relay teams to participate at the NCAA Division II National Championships thanks to junior; Erin Sullivan.
Sullivan qualified for nationals with an “A cut” in the 100-yard backstroke with a 54.24 time. An “A cut” equals a straight route to national championship competition. Sullivan also swam a “B cut” in the 200-yard backstroke with a 2:00.09 time.
Sullivan’s qualification in the “A cut” for nationals opened the door for the MSUM swim and dive team to take at least three other swimmers to nationals. Coach Todd Peters discussed finances with athletic administrators and asked to take one more swimmer, totaling five MSUM athletes, to Alabama for nationals.
They gave him the “OK” and Peters was ready to get back to training his athletes for nationals.
Kampa will finish her last year on the swim team going to nationals in the 400-yard medley relay and the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay. Photo by Jessica Colby
“We have been training more fast sets with fast flip turns and fast finishes,” Peters said. “We are making them stronger mentally and physically for nationals.”
Peters selected freshman Breah Anderson, sophomores Natalie Kampa and Taylor Beynon, Sullivan and senior Ashley Higgins.
“It was up in the air all year,” Kampa said.
She said being in the coaching world back at home, she knew it was a hard decision to make to see who will be traveling with Sullivan to fill relay spots.
Swimmers determined to finish with a bang
The five Dragons will be heading to Alabama on Monday, March 6th. Photo by Jessica Colby
Kampa talked about her conference meet and said even though she didn’t reach all of her time goals, she did reach her main goal – finishing her swim season with a bang.
“Going to nationals is a good way of going out with a bang,” Kampa said.
This is Anderson’s first time going to nationals, just like the other swimmers, except Sullivan.
“I’m just nervous,” Anderson said about nationals. She said the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference meet was not the best meet because top swimmers were sick with colds and flu.
The dragon swim and dive team supports each other when it comes to their last race of their career as a student-athlete. Photo by McKenna Togstad
“I hope to go faster at nationals,” Anderson said.
Teammates have helped her a lot in her freshman season.
“They push me at practice and making me race them,” Anderson said, adding that Sullivan has helped her become faster and stronger every day.
Sullivan preps for return trip to nationals
Sullivan swam the 200-yard individual medley at the NSIC meet in Rochester, Minnesota. Photo by Jessica Colby
Sullivan has a year of national-level competition under her belt. She’s the veteran, returning to her second national competition this year.
“I’m excited for nationals this year to be joined with my teammates, I think it will improve the team atmosphere and we will be able to talk to each other and help each other out,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan holds eight school and pool records; 50-, 100- and 200-yard backstroke; 50- and 100-yard butterfly; and 100-yard individual medley as part of the 200- and 400-yard medley relays.
Beynon will swim the breaststroke at nationals in the 200- and 400-yard medley relay.
Beynon attended the Last Chance Meet at Mankato, Minnesota, after the NSIC meet to try to cut more time in her 200-yard breaststroke. In the process, Beynon broke Mankato’s 200-yard breaststroke pool record.
Beynon will be contributing to the relays by swimming breaststroke in the 200- and 400-yard medley relay. Photo by Jessica Colby
“I went a second and a half faster at the Last Chance Meet than I did at conference,” Beynon said.
Beynon said she doesn’t know what to expect at nationals since it’s her first time.
“I over-succeeded in my goals on the relay because I didn’t really expect to go,” Beynon said.
Athletes appreciate coaches’ high expectations
Anderson touched out many opponents at the NSIC meet in Rochester, Minnesota. Photo by Jessica Colby
All the national swimmers express appreciation that their coaches have been with them every step of the way to nationals.
“Todd has helped me by holding me to high expectations,” said Kampa.
The possible relay line-ups will be:
200-yard Medley Relay
Sullivan, Beynon, Higgins, Anderson
400-yard Medley Relay
Sullivan, Beynon, Kampa, Anderson
200-yard Free Relay
Sullivan, Anderson, Higgins, Kampa
400-yard Free Relay
Sullivan, Anderson, Higgins, Kampa
Jessica Colby is a junior at MSUM majoring in exercise science and multimedia journalism. She is a student-athlete on the MSUM swim and dive team, a dragon ambassador, and wellness educator at MSUM. Contact Jessica at email@example.com