Splashing towards the championship

LC swimming heads off to the Northwest Conference Championship

By Peter Melling /// Sports Editor

SwimColor

After a successful series of dual meets, the men’s and women’s swimming teams are heading to the Northwest Conference Championship from Feb. 13-15. Over the dual meet season, the Pioneers successfully plowed through opponents in the NWC and outside of conference. How have they been able to perform so well this year?

Chemisty has been an important part of the team’s successes. Head Coach Chris Fantz said, “Very early on the team came together to try to build a real family unit. When we start with a supportive core group, the quality of everything else we do is elevated, from the pool workouts and the weight room to staying healthy and finding academic success.”

The Pios demonstrated this familial bond through their successes on the road. Their schedule not only took them to the pools of NWC opponents Wilamette University and University of Puget Sound, but also to the Corvallis Senior Open Invitational in Corvallis, Oregon, when nine Pios set personal records at the Saturday preliminaries, six Pioneers made the Friday finals and seven Pioneers made the Saturday finals. They also went outside of the Pacific Northwest for a three-team meet in Eagle Rock, California against Occidental College and Westminster College.

Over the course of the season, many of the swimmers have improved their craft. Fantz said, “I would highlight Zach Simon (’17), who crushed his lifetime best 100 yard butterfly in a dual meet against Linfield University and has been on fire in training and competition. I also look at one of our women’s captains, Sofia Koutzoukis (’16), who has put up fantastic backstroke swims so far this year, including a personal best 200 backstroke in December. These two are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Pioneers who I think are going to do big things at the Conference Championship.”

Not only have team veterans performed well, but first-year swimmers (five on the men’s team and four on the women’s team) have adapted well to their new setting. Fantz said, “I can look back across our season and see that every one of our freshmen has made real strides in adapting to this environment. I’m impressed every day with the way they are training and how much our freshmen have bought into both the program and to what it means to be part of a team. This is most certainly a strong class to build on.”

Standout performances from first-year swimmers include Miles French (’18) winning the 200 yard individual medley against Pacific University (Oregon) and Lucia Brammer (’18) setting a lifetime best at the 200 yard butterfly at the Corvallis Senior Open, shaving 2.5 seconds off of her previous best.

Now that the dual meet season is over, the swimming Pios look forward to the playoffs. Fantz said, “When a team is working well together, the Conference Championship feels more like a celebration than anything else. We come a long way as a team and put in a lot of meaningful work and time together. Fast swimming and a lot of fun with people who mean something to you are the payoffs. As coaches, we get excited to see what every one of our swimmers will do in the big meet.”

The NWC playoff meets begin on Feb. 13 at Corvallis, and will continue until the 15.

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