Little Giants Finish 3rd, Look Ahead to First Dual Meet vs. Rose-Hulman

Last Saturday, October 23, the Little Giant swimming and diving team competed at the Indiana Division III Championships, hosted in Terre Haute by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, finishing third of the 6 schools that participated. Right now, the team is looking ahead, in preparation for five days of competition within the next nine days, which include the annual meet against DePauw University.

The swimming and diving team has plenty of reasons to be optimistic coming from last Saturday’s meet. “We had a lot of season-best times,” Head Swimming and Diving Coach Will Bernhardt said. “They did a really good job of coming prepared to compete. A lot of times early in the season, you can see that sometimes their focus isn’t quite there; they’re just kind of trying to get through the meet. But our guys really came to the DIII meet ready to compete, ready to focus on what they needed to improve from the week before and did a really good job of just being in the moment, you know, just having the time to get better as a team.”

Every meet comes with its own lessons, and the Indiana Division III Championships is no different. As a result, the team is looking to keep up this learning mindset for the upcoming meets.

“The early competitions will give us opportunities to see deficiencies, things we’re not working on as much or need to work on more in practice,” Bernhardt said. “We’re working on strategies over the course of the week to then be better at the actual race when the competitions come.” Like with most collaborative sports, what the team does outside the pool matters as much as what they do inside the pool, and swimming and diving is as much psychological as it is physical.

“I think, mentally, our guys are keyed in,” Bernhardt said. “I think they know what our goals are. […] We meet early on in the season and set those goals, and they’re on [the] whiteboard here in the team room pretty much the whole year. And then, we’ll look at them day-in and day-out when we’re in here for meetings or just hanging out. We’ll reevaluate those at the middle of the year and see, okay, ‘Which ones have we been able to accomplish so far?’ ‘Which ones do we need to spend more time working on as a team?’ And I think that’s kind of what motivates them: being able to see those daily and have them in front of your mind every single day.”

This kind of mental preparation is key for weeks with back-to-back meets, like the one that’s starting today and the week of the NCAA Division III Championships. In the long run, the swimming and diving team looks to at least match or surpass the level they were at in the 2019-2020 season, before the pandemic cancelled their national championships. The team also aims to become one of the top-20 swimming and diving programs in Division III.

“To do that, we need to continually get better in the water and on the boards, but we also need to recruit freshmen faster and faster,” Bernhardt said.

Another part of that involves the team dynamic and how the freshmen adjust to their first collegiate season. So far, the team is getting along well, and their newest members’ ambition is pushing the entire team forward.

“Some of our freshmen are coming in and competing for some of the top spots on our team right away,” Bernhardt said. “And that’s really fun, because then it holds the upperclassmen a little more accountable and helps them continue to push forward in their events and what they’re trying to accomplish.”

The Wabash College swimming and diving team will have their first dual meet of the season against Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers tonight at 7 p.m. in the Class of 1950 Natatorium. Tomorrow, they will be competing away against Albion College in Hillsdale, Michigan. On Wednesday, November 3, they will compete against DePauw in Greencastle. Finally, the rounds out their week in Chicago, where they will be competing on November 5 and 6 against the University of Chicago Maroons.