The St. Olaf swimming and diving team opened its season with tough matchups against MIAC opponents Gustavus and St. Thomas. Despite an 0-2 record, the team has competed very well, improving upon each meet thus far.
Both the men’s and women’s teams started on Oct. 20 at the St. Thomas Relays and improved their times at the Cows, Colleges, Contentment Classic Oct. 27. In the quad meet consisting of UW-La Crosse, Carleton and St. Cloud State, the St. Olaf team recorded several top-three finishes.
Kelly Punyko ’19, Sophia Nevin ’21 and Helen Jensen ’20 took second-place in the 200-yard medley relay (1:53.29). St. Olaf also finished second in the men’s 200-yard medley relay – Ian Kretzmann ’20, Marcel Hones ’21, Gus Reynolds ’19 and John Loepfe ’20 swam the race in 1:38.84.
These 200-yard medleys are a strong focal point for both the men and women – the two relays continued their successes in the following matches against St. Thomas on Nov. 3 and Gustavus on Nov. 10.
The men’s team fell short 105-187 to the nationally ranked St. Thomas, and the women lost 100-198. In these losses, both St. Olaf teams had several strong individual showings. On the one meter diving board, Leif Jorgensen ’19 finished second with a score of 254.62. This was after being named MIAC athlete of the week Oct. 23, as he started the season with incredible back to back performances on the board. Jorgensen is the first St. Olaf swimming and diving athlete to receive this award since 2014.
Marissa Wolff won the women’s 200-yard freestyle, garnering nine points with a time of 1:58.44. Additionally, Linnea Rizzo ’19 won attention and points for the team by finishing second in the women’s 1000-yard freestyle race with a time of 11:03.61. Rizzo proceeded to cut down on her already speedy finish, winning the race in the Gustavus meet a week later.
The Manitou Messenger caught up with Kretzmann to get some inside information on the start to the 2019 season and the men’s team’s expectations for the rest of the year.
Q: How do you feel about the season and the team thus far?
A: “The season thus far has gone well. We have a tremendous amount of talent on both the men’s and women’s teams, and we constantly inspire each other to perform at our best and work our hardest. The most intense racing, diving and training is yet to come, but we’re all looking forward to the challenges and improving ourselves in and out of the pool.”
Q: What has your team focused on this season compared to years past?
A: “We’ve definitely developed a grind mentality with an intense focus on the details critical to our sport. We all encourage one another to do one more rep or go a fraction of a second faster. Each athlete has their strengths and weaknesses, and each athlete can help one another with any technical aspect of swimming or diving.”
Q: Your team competed against St. Thomas and Gustavus – two high-achieving teams – very good teams early this season. How does this high level of competition help in the long run?
A: “The meets with St. Thomas and Gustavus provide us with the experiences of competing with excellent and often nationally ranked athletes and raises the expectations that we have for ourselves and our team. They also emphasize the importance of each and every member of the team, as these meets often come down to only a few points. These sort of meets inspire us in both our individual victories and losses, and our enormous team potential is evident – we know the next time we match up with them they can expect fierce competition and immense improvement on every front.”
Q: What is the significance of the training trip in Florida with the team over winter break?
A: “The training trip to Florida allows us to train at a level of intensity, up to three times a day, often not allowed by the rigorous academic and artistic obligations of campus life. It builds immense team camaraderie, and the gains we see in the pool are likewise – enormous. The location in Ft. Lauderdale at the International Swimming Hall of Fame pool is a brilliant location to train hard, eat well and develop our Speedo tans while simultaneously escaping the harsh northern winter, all of which definitely contribute to a higher team morale and a higher level of competition that we are able to provide.”
Q: What are your goals and expectations for the rest of the season?
A: “We intend to leave nothing to the imagination and to expend all available energy and focus each time we get the chance to compete. We plan to send some athletes to nationals and to place as close to first in every event in both our mid-season meet this coming weekend and our championship meet in February.”