Belles set for start of dual meets
By JANEL MILLER
The Belles' swimming and diving team is going global.
After opening their dual meet season tonight at Rolfs Aquatic Center against the University of Chicago, the Saint Mary's swimming and diving team will pack their bags and head north to Ontario, Canada to compete against the University of Western Ontario.
The team will be accompanied by their brother team Wabash College and the Notre Dame men's swimming and diving team.
"We have been training very hard," said head coach Gretchen Hildebrandt. "They are tired. Tired of swimming and probably tired of me. This weekend gives everyone a break from practice and Saint Mary's and finally gives them the opportunity to show off their hard work."
The meet provides a much-needed break from training for the Belles, who have been in the water nearly one month sans-competition.
"We are so excited to finally compete, to break up the monotony of practicing both morning and night," said senior co-captain Olivia Smith.
Coming off a fifth-place MIAA finish last February, the non-league competition will get the Belles geared to take on their MIAA competitors later in the season. The Belles season debut saw them finish sixth at Notre Dame Relays in early October, and pressure for faster performances has been building in the team since then.
"We came out and swam hard at ND relays and it gave the ladies somewhere to start form," said Hildebrandt. "Now we are looking for the rewards of improving themselves and the motivation to carry us from now until our next competition."
The Belles, having defeated the University of Chicago last year are looking toward a repeat performance. With only 11 swimmers and no divers, U of C will have difficulty in dealing with the depth of this year's Belles squad. The Belles will also be showcasing diver senior Ryann Cox, who will compete in her first collegiate competitoin.
"She will be doing dives with high degrees of difficulty and has no pressure from competition," Hildebrandt said. "I'm excited for her."
The Belles will need to focus on endurance for the upcoming weekend, focusing almost exclusively on the long events. In preparing for this weekend's match-ups, Hildebrandt has concentrated on the mental aspects of swimming long course events.
"The younger swimmers have never swam a 200 yard breaststroke, or 200 yard butterfly race and it's been over a year for the returners as well," she said.
According to Hildebrandt, Saturday's competition may be tough but she is torn between a powerful and a more laid back lineup.
"I want to show them [University of Western Ontario] that we are serious about swimming them but I also realize that the girls are tired. And I want them to have fun."
All Sports Stories for Friday, November 3, 2000