SWIMMING AND DIVING: Ohio meet to end first half

Josh Buckman

An incredible first half of the season for Western’s swimming and diving team comes to an end this weekend at the Miami (Ohio) Invitationals.

The event is a three-day meet that begins today. The meet will help teams prepare for championship competitions. Score will be kept, but the main focus will be on individual performances.

“Everybody’s looking at it with real high expectations,” sophomore Nick Bracco said. “And everyone’s excited for it, so I think we’ll do well.”

The weekend’s meet will conclude a first half of the season that has surprised many people, including the swimmers, divers and coaches.

“I’m so very impressed with the type of kids they are,” Coach Bill Powell said. “Ninety-nine percent of them are really working hard in the classroom. And they have risen to every occasion we have given them.”

On the women’s side, the Lady Toppers started the season in uncharted territory after graduating nine seniors from last year’s team. To counter the loss, eight freshmen were brought in, and so far they’ve impressed. The women are 12-3.

The team has been led by a trio of freshmen: Meredith Mountjoy, Jordan Beck and Rachel Buncher.

“I think that we have turned a lot of heads and done a lot of things that people really didn’t think we could do,” Buncher said. “We’ve actually exceeded my expectations, too, so far in the season.”

The team also looks to its team captains, Carol Brown and Meredith McCauley, for leadership.

“It’s a heavy weight because … when you’re working as a team, you already have to think about the whole team, not only yourself,” Brown said. “But as a captain you gotta think more about the others. You got to think of yourself as a piece of the whole work, and just being an example trying to do the right things.”

On the men’s side, the Toppers come into the meet undefeated at 7-0 after squeezing by Ball State 123.5 to 119.5. Even though Gord Veldman and Bracco have done well all season, many team members have contributed to the the team’s success.

“The team on a whole is doing great,” Bracco said. “We will be ready for this weekend.”

Both teams also had to adjust to new members of the coaching staff this year. Former Clemson head coach Bruce Marchionda is a new associate head coach, while Charles Law became the new diving coach.

“The big adjustment is trying to get each of the swimmers to believe in the system that we are running,” Marchionda said. “And so far, during the course of the dual meets, we’ve had a number of people that have lifetime bests in the performances, which is very unusual at this time of the year.”

After the meet this weekend, the team will resume practices on Dec. 26 in Florida to prepare for the Gulf Coast Invitationals on Jan. 4.

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]