So far this season there have been steady waters for Augustana swimming.
After two hard losses to Minnesota State (4-1) and MSU Moorhead (6-4) and a dominating win over University of Mary (2-6), the Vikings stand at 3-2 overall with mid-season fast approaching.
Over the last weekend in October the team travelled to Mankato, Minn. and dropped two losses against Minnesota State and MSU Moorhead, but the team fared better than last year, freshman Taylor Beagle said.
“Mankato and Moorhead have been around a lot longer than we have,” Beagle said. “We were a lot closer to both of them last year in terms of points, so I think everyone was pretty happy with how it turned out.”
During the duals, Beagle placed first in the 1650-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle race, and sophomore Emma Miller also clinched two first-place finishes in the 1000-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle.
At their final regular-season home meet on Nov. 3, the Vikings slapped the wall first in 10 races, dominating U-Mary 163-99.
As it is the team’s second season, the roster is light, but it’s only a matter of time before it fills up, head coach Lindsie Micko said.
A team’s roster size is crucial to performance, Beagle said, because more bodies in the pool allows swimmers to specialize in events.
“For other programs, a lot of their kids will only swim one of two events where as we are swimming three events and relays,” Beagle said.
Miller said that as the team grows and diversifies it will have different swimmers to deploy at different times.
“We’ve noticed a significant change from last year because we’re bringing in really good girls,” Miller said.
“We still have some weaknesses that we are going to have to build toward over the next couple of years,” Micko said. “But we’re getting better every year. I mean, I get the question all the time, ‘How are things going?’ Well, right now things are going great, but ask me when we have gone through a full four-year cycle and when our freshmen who came in last year are seniors. You know, experience makes all the difference.”
The team welcomed its newest swimmer, Kamryn Robarge, on Nov. 8 during the early signing period for AU sports. Robarge swam for Big Lake High School in Big Lake, Minn., and will hit the water for AU next fall.
U-Mary and University of Sioux Falls (1-2) started their swimming programs back in 2016 at the same time as Augustana, creating a new-kid-on-the-block rivalry between the three teams. Micko said the healthy competition between the young teams is beneficial to the swimmers and the sport itself, and she’s excited to see how the teams perform after U-Mary and USF complete a four-year cycle as well.
In terms of depth, USF is leading. It is currently 27 swimmers deep, followed by U-Mary’s 14. AU is right in the middle with 19.
Luckily, Beagle said, Augustana’s roster is fairly healthy, but there are some aches and pains in the ranks. Beagle herself had her left shoulder in a sling. “A lot of us have shoulder injuries from overuse, but it’s nothing serious.”
Miller estimated that at least half of the team is sore. “Now that we are getting in the thick of things it is completely normal to have nagging pains,” Miller said.
“The nice thing is they are able to work through most of it and train and race,” Micko said. “So nobody is out, but we are just seeing a lot of shoulder issues from repetition.”
Relief is right around the corner for the Vikings, as they will begin tapering after Thanksgiving Break in preparation for the Dragon-Cobber Open in West Fargo, N.D.
Before then, the team has tough competition ahead of them. On Sept. 11, the Vikings head south for the Morningside Invite in Sioux City, I.A.
“It going to be a fun invitation,” Micko said. “We get to see teams we do not compete with regularly, and there will be men’s swimming there, which we never see because we do not have it here. So it will be a nice change of pace.”
After Morningside, the team will head north to Aberdeen, S.D., on Nov. 17 to face Northern State (1-11). The Vikings bested the Wolves 148-57 and 178-84 in their last two meets, and Miller said the team is confident it can sweep them a third time.
Next, the team will turn home the next day and face USF. Miller said she does not know how to feel about the race after the razor-thin 11-point loss last year to the Cougars.
“It was really, really, really close last year—they just barely won,” Miller said. “They gained a lot of girls like we did, so it will be interesting.”
Micko said she’s confident, but, she admitted, the Cougars could have something in store. “I know the girls will be up for it,” Micko said. “It will be a fun meet—bring out the old rivalry. But USF is really good.”
USF switched coaches midcourse, which, Beagle said, could benefit or handicap the team going forward.
“A new coach in the middle of the season is always hard,” Beagle said. “We just have to be confident going into it.”
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