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MIAA Swimming and Diving Championships Day Three Recap

Sunday, February 17, 2008

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The Calvin women’s swimming and diving team sealed its fourth straight MIAA Championship and sixth title this decade edging out Hope College in Saturday’s Finals at the Holland Aquatics Center. Calvin, who lost its dual meet with Hope, responded with an impressive 104 point margin of victory over the Dutch.

The MIAA title is the sixth of the 2007-08 academic year for Calvin College. This fall, Calvin picked up MIAA titles in men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country and in women’s volleyball.

“I knew we had depth coming in,” said soaking coach Dan Gelderloos after the team’s traditional celebration swim. “I was hoping that our depth would pay off here, but I didn’t think that we would come out this good. It’s phenomenal and it’s a fun weekend.”

It also marks the first season that Calvin is without four-time national champion Becky Weima. Gelderloos was thrilled with his team’s performance without the five-time national champion.

“Becky was a phenomenal swimmer,” said Gelderloos. “But it wasn’t about losing her; it was about getting the most out of what we have. We have to move on and that gives more people the opportunity to step up. She started [our success] and we’re continuing it.”

A national champion alongside Weima a year ago, junior Erica Deur (Holland) picked up her third straight MIAA Most Valuable Diver Award. Deur shattered the pool records in both the one-meter and three-meter dives yesterday.

“It’s almost status quo, she’s just so consistent,” said Gelderloos. “Even when she has one bad dive, the next one is just phenomenal.”
The meet also means the end of MIAA competition for the four seniors on the women’s swimming and diving team: Sarah Abbott (Grand Rapids), Lis Beal (Grand Rapids), Stephanie Duncan (Long Grove, IL) and Kat Vinson (Kaneohe, HI). “This is the first senior class that has not lost [an MIAA Championship],” said Gelderloos. “It’s their leadership that drove this championship.”

It was also an electric atmosphere inside that Holland Aquatic center that drove the Knights’ championship. “It’s just exciting,” said sophomore Emily Roberts (Dekalb, IL). “We train the entire season for this meet and you know the time you want coming in. Walking in to the music, seeing the stands full and your parents there; it gets you excited.”

Highlighting Saturday’s finals for the women was a one-two-three sweep of the 200 Yard Breaststroke with sophomore Maggie Vail (Portage) winning her first career MIAA competition with a NCAA III provisional qualifying time and Calvin school record of 2:23.48. Finishing second and third for the Knights also with NCAA III provisional qualifying times were Abbott and Roberts with 2:25.64 and 2:25.77 respectively.

“For those girls to come through like that with some big swims was phenomenal,” said Gelderloos. “Maggie Vail, to see her time drop like that and Emily [Roberts] the way she was able to out touch her competitor came down to just guts. And Sarah Abbot to come out of nowhere to get the second place finish was awesome.”

“It’s exciting,” said a smiling Vail who had just been informed that her time was a school record. “I’ve never won an [MIAA] meet before so it’s great.“It was a near flip of yesterday’s 100 Yard Breaststroke finals that Roberts won, followed by Vail and Abbott. “When everyone around you is doing well it raises the bar,” said Roberts.

“I think it makes it better that your teammate beats you,” said Abbott. “[Who won] doesn’t really matter because we all [got preliminary qualifications], we’re all going to nationals and we’re all good friends.” Abbott and Vail credit Roberts, who finished third in the 100 Breaststroke at nationals a year ago, for a lot of their success. “She is such a tremendous competitor and really takes all the pressure off,” said Abbott.

Calvin’s 400 Yard Freestyle Relay of junior Cara VanWoerkom (Wyoming), Duncan, junior Julie Wolfe (Westerville, OH) and Vinson was edged out at the last second by Hope College to finish second in the final event of the night. Calvin also had a second place finish in the 100 Yard Free Style with VanWoerkom’s provisional qualifying time of 52.80. Duncan finished fourth with a time of 53.77. Calvin grabbed three spots in the 1650 Yard Freestyle with sophomore Laura Price (Warren, PA) as the Knights top finisher in third. Sophomore Libby Veldhkamp (Grand Rapids) and freshman Lindsey Huizenga (Rockford) finished fourth and eight respectively. Hope’s Melisa Gerbeth won the even setting a new MIAA record.

In the 200 Yard Backstroke, freshman Monica Bressler (Sandusky, OH) took fourth place to Hope’s Brittaney Reest who was later awarded the MIAA Most Valuable Swimmer. Sophomore Danielle Mitchell (Iron Mountain) finished fifth in the 200 Yard Butterfly.

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