Fueled by fresh talent, the Augustana women’s swimming and dive team sits at No. 8 nationally, its highest rank in the program’s history.
The Vikings are 10-0 through four meets this season, and in four NSIC Women’s Swimming and Diving releases, two Viking freshmen have earned NSIC Swimmer of the Week honors.
In her first collegiate meet against on Oct. 1, freshman Bryn Greenwaldt broke an Augustana record with a 26.18 in the 50 backstroke, placed second in the 100 freestyle and was a part of the medley event that took first place.
“It felt so surreal to see that after my first college meet I was given the honor of being the NSIC Swimmer of the Week,” Greenwaldt said. “Truthfully, though, seeing the way the team supported me in that and how excited everyone else was about it was more rewarding than anything else.”
This team camaraderie is what head coach Lindsie Micko credited for the team’s current success.
“Now that our girls have a higher mindset, it’s been really good,” Micko said. “I think everybody supports each other, which has been huge. Sometimes there are freshmen that come in that are faster than we are, but what the women see are the additions between our sophomores last year and the freshmen now that all of a sudden we could qualify relays which we’ve never done before.”
A native of Foley, Minnesota, Greenwaldt has spent only two months at Augustana, yet she has already achieved NCAA “B” cut times in the 50 and 100 freestyle. With those times, she is on the cusp of automatic qualification to the NCAA Championships. She could still qualify for nationals with those times if she is within the top 27-28 in the country.
“Bryn just flat out has speed in pretty much everything she does,” Micko said. “Yet she trains better than most. Most sprinters tend to struggle aerobically, and she’s done really well.”
Greenwaldt said she credits her high school training for her easy transition to collegiate practices.
“Our coach was crazy good and worked us hard each and every day, so even though I have never swum this consistently, switching to this kind of practice and program honestly hasn’t been that difficult of a change for me,” Greenwaldt said.
While her high school training prepared her for the commitment to Augustana’s program, Greenwaldt said the university’s swimming and diving leadership has also motivated her.
“The types of workouts we are doing now compared to back home are immensely different, as well as the style of lifting, but more than anything, the thing that has helped me the most is to trust the incredible coaching and work as hard as I can each and every day,” Greenwaldt said.
In the NSIC Women’s Swimming and Diving release from Oct. 18, freshman Ella Ward-Zeller earned NSIC Swimmer of the Week. Ward-Zeller won the 100 and 200 backstroke against South Dakota State on Oct. 14 en route to the Vikings taking down the Division I opponent 189-109. She now leads the NSIC in both of those races.
The win over SDSU is the second win over a Division I team this season. With their next meet being against the University of South Dakota, Micko said she is happy to take on teams at the upper level.
“We’re as good as they are,” Micko said. “To be able to see that is really good for [our athletes]. You can be good at the Division II level and have some opportunities that they’ll never have at the Division I level.
The Coyote Extravaganza on Nov. 4 will be the last meet before the Augustana Invitational concludes the fall season on Nov. 17-19.
“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Micko said. “In a month here, we will put on our tech suits and see where we are at trying to get some cuts early before our conference tournament in February. Now, I’m super excited to see what we can do, and we are way farther along than I ever expected us to be.”