Two swimmers break school records and three divers qualify for NCAA Nationals for the Cougars
By Brendan Fretwell, Guest Writer
Azusa Pacific’s swim and dive team participated in the 2017 Collegiate Winter Invitational from Dec. 1 through Dec. 3 and finished in third place after all three days of competition. APU faced off against six other schools in what was a highly anticipated winter meet.
Coming off of Thanksgiving break, the Cougars knew they had to have a strong start, and a point of emphasis amongst the team was to begin the three-day competition on a positive note. Big contributions from some of APU’s star swimmers was a big key to the success of the team.
Junior swimmer Elodie Poo Cheong and senior swimmer Rosalee Mira Santa Ana set a school record in the 200M-freestyle competition. This was a huge boost for the team as they continued to battle in what was a very competitive field.
“Both of them had a tremendous meet,” head coach Tim Kyle said. “We train hard to swim well. They both showed tremendous heart and put up some good times.”
As the meet continued, there was no frustration or discontent among the Cougars as they continued to post solid times consistently. However, these consistent times couldn’t get them past third place throughout all three days of competition.
“Obviously we want to do the best that we can. I think considering how we are swimming individually right now we’re pretty happy, even though we want to be better,” senior swimmer Alyse Darnall said.
A lack of routine may have attributed to the third-place performance as the APU had just come back from its annual Thanksgiving break.
“We had a weird training schedule the past two weeks and I think getting back into our rhythm and I think a set schedule while training hard will be really crucial to our improvement,” Darnall said.
Despite this lack of routine prior to the winter meet playing a factor in the performance of the team, it didn’t show on the scoreboard.
APU finished each day of competition in third place with combined team scores of 380, 787 and 1316, respectively. These are very admirable scores considering the skill level of the competition also participating.
Great times from Santa Ana, Cheong, Darnall and Tamara Miler contributed heavily to the overall success. Preparation was very important to the team entering this meet and it was a common feeling among the swimmers that their preparation could have been better.
“We weren’t really prepared for this meet so we came into the spirit of just doing our best for all three days,” Poo Cheong said. “For the last day, we just tried to keep it together because we all wanted to do really well on the last day especially.”
The third day of the meet happened to be the best for the Cougars as they scored 529 points in the final day of competition and it seemed as if this was exactly the strong finish that the Cougars had been looking for.
From the dive team, three divers from APU qualified for NCAA Division II Nationals. Freshman McKenna Webster, senior Kianna Mourer and junior Rachel Johns all received championship qualification scores at this winter meet, and needless to say, this was another huge boost for the team as a whole.
“We’re extremely proud of our dive group. They’re a talented bunch and they put the time and effort in to compete well,” Kyle said. “Our dive coach [Cindy Adams] is outstanding and she does some amazing work with them and it’s all coming together.”
The performance at this highly anticipated meet was terrific and with some strong contributions from key swimmers and divers, APU presented the true skill of their team. With even more training ahead in the future, the upcoming meets for this team should yield very positive results.
The Cougars’ next meet is on Saturday, Dec. 16 against Fresno Pacific University in Riverside, Calif.