The men and women of the Wittenberg Swimming and Diving program are set to make a splash as they head further into the 2015-2016 season.
When asked about the current status of the team, Natalie Koukis, head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach, said, “We lost a number of key contributors, but the younger members of the team are stepping up to the challenge and [are] excited to have an opportunity to prove themselves.”
Two of those contributors from last season who graduated have returned this year as assistant coaches. Eric Roberts has come back as assistant dive coach, a role which he first took on last season, and James Dumstorf has also come back as an assistant coach for swimming.
Of the swimmers and divers who have come back this season, Koukis said, “Our top returners are [senior] Steve Stuthers on the men’s side, and [sophomore] Katie Black on the women’s, both achieving provisional national qualifying standards last year.”
Proof of the cohesion of the young and hardworking team can be seen through senior captain Maggie Kramer. Kramer said, “This group of girls and guys are such a blast to train with, and the atmosphere both in and out of the pool is fantastic!”
That’s not to say it’s all fun and games: “We are in the one of the toughest training periods of the season, and the athletes are training their bodies to swim fast while tired,” Koukis said. “Our main goal is for each individual to perform to their highest potential at the mid-season invitational and our conference championship. We are aiming for everyone to achieve lifetime-bests at the end of the season.”
Wittenberg is in a tough conference with consistent NCAA Division III title contenders Kenyon and Denison, though that has not prevented the team from remaining competitive against the other schools in the conference and continuing to strive for personal-best times.
“I think we are probably most evenly matched with Ohio Wesleyan, as evident by the one-point victory over OWU on the men’s side. My goal is to be competing with the majority of the teams [in the conference],” Koukis said. “I think we are in a point of the season when we are discovering our true strengths and weaknesses and looking to highlight and improve on them respectively.”
Success in the water and off the boards is not the only thing the team’s athletes are concerned with. “This year, we have been involved in several service projects,” Kramer said. “We have gotten the chance to help build part of a house with Fuller Center for Housing, volunteered at Possum Elementary School and have our annual Hour of Power this week to raise money for the Ted Mullin Fund for Sarcoma Research.”
Ultimately, Kramer said, “[The] service projects and all our time in the pool show the true character of the team this year: a group of hard-working, caring, generous individuals that make up one strong Tiger family!”
This past weekend, Wittenberg’s swimmers and divers traveled to Wilmington for a tri-meet against the home school’s Fightin’ Quakers and the Transylvania Pioneers. The women had a strong showing, going 2-0 in the meet, while the men went 1-1, winning against the Pioneers and losing in close competition against the Quakers.
You can come out to support Wittenberg’s swimmers and divers at home this Friday, Nov. 13 versus Ohio Northern at 6 p.m., and for their Senior Appreciation meet on Jan. 16 versus Centre at 1 p.m.