The WKU swimming and diving team continued its dominant weekend Sunday at Bill Powell Natatorium as the Hilltopper Invite drew to a close.
Both the WKU men’s and women’s squads entered the day with commanding leads, with the women leading second-place Vanderbilt, 852-583, and the men leading second-place Eastern Illinois University, 932-394, in the eight-team meet.
Those leads continued to grow as the night wore on. The men’s team finished first, defeating second place Eastern Illinois University 1347-616.5, and WKU women’s team defeated Vanderbilt 1,161-899.
Particularly noticeable was the amount of swimmers gaining first-place honors in the championship A-finals for WKU.
“Some of the swimmers actually surprised us with how fast they could get up,” Head Coach Bruce Marchionda said. “They really weren’t worried about anybody else but themselves, which is what we focused on during practice.”
With the amount of swimmers winning those top races, WKU broke 15 pool records this weekend.
“A big key factor was a motto we came up with in the beginning of the year which was, ‘Leave no man or woman behind,’” Marchionda said. “By taking that to heart, we emphasized the team.
“Relays represent the team, and that is where a lot of our records came from — when you need four good swimmers, not just one.”
Neither the men nor women have lost a meet since an Oct. 16 defeat to South Carolina in Nashville.
Senior Claire Donahue credited the Toppers for “working their butts off” to get back in shape.
“Coming into the season, we were kind of out of shape, so the past four months have been crucial to working hard,” she said. “But having a rest week this past week was nice and allowed us to swim fast.”
But ultimately, the win was a team effort.
“I was surprised by some of the times we put up, but we had some pretty good competition in some of the races and we wanted to see how many pool records we could go after,” sophomore Billy Kunkel said of the collective drive.
Marchionda agreed, but added that the team did struggle at the midpoint of the weekend. The Invite was held over a three-day period and wrapped up Sunday night.
“The fifth session was terrible. So, before the sixth session we sat down and talked about that and I challenged them,” Marchionda said. “They really stepped up and showed me what they can do when they’re challenged.”
Most important to Marchionda, though, was what the team has learned in preparation its next meet Dec. 4 against Evansville.
“A lot of our freshman really found out that even when they’re dead tired on the third day that they still have to get up and swim fast, they still have to warm up, and that they still need to be ready to go for their last events,” Marchionda said.