SWIMMING: Hilltoppers hope final meet will mirror season’s successes

Josh Buckman

The men’s swimming and diving team begins its last lap on Wednesday with the four-day National Independent Championships in Michigan.

“We’ve been undefeated, but I mean that’s nothing going into this meet because the last meet of the season is the one that counts,” freshman Chris Tarter said.

The team is expecting tough competition from Hawaii (13-1) and Southern Methodist (5-4), ranked 21st and 26th by the college swimming coaches’ association poll.

“Hawaii … and Southern Methodist are powerhouses,” coach Bill Powell said. “They’re fully ranked, fully funded teams. They’re way up there in a different class. They’re very good.”

While the idea of defeating ranked opponents is appealing, Powell admits that the team’s 15-0 regular season record is enough to consider this season a success.

“The men have had a very successful season,” Powell said. “With a 15-0 season, I think that’s about as much as you can ask, and what I’d like here in the NIC’s, we’re not naive enough to think we have this great chance of winning against this great competition.

“I would just like to see us really competitive in the NIC’s, and everyone getting lifetime best times.”

On the other hand, many team members feel that there is still a lot left to accomplish.

“I think we’ve had an awesome season, but I think we want to finish off even on a stronger note and do a lot a better at NIC’s,” freshman Stephen Ayers said.

In order for the Hilltoppers to compete, they need to have strong performances from the entire team. Backstrokers and butterfliers will have to continue this seasons’ success while also putting points on the board in the other events.

Last season Western finished fourth behind SMU, Hawaii and Oakland (Mich).

Also on board for the meet will be a handful of the Sun Belt Conference Champion Lady Toppers. While they will not carry the depth to compete, they do hope to drop times.

“I didn’t really get a chance to do well in the 200 fly because it was back-to-back from the 200 back at Sun Belt,” freshman Jordan Beck said. “So I’m going to go fresh and swim the 200 fly, and hopefully get the school record.”

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