2017-18 swim team group photo

On Jan. 29, the Wildcat swim team found out they earned the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Fall Scholarship All-American honors. The Wildcat swim team also achieved the highest average GPA (3.8) out of the seven teams in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and second highest average GPA in the nation against other Division III teams. This is a major improvement from last year when they were sixth with a 3.69 team GPA.

Founded in 1922, the CSCAA is the oldest coaches association in America. From the beginning it was very active in the sport, directing championships, developing rules, and even playing a part in the administration of college competition. Today, the CSCAA includes over 2,000 coaches, recognizes all American swimmers, and ensures the well-being of collegiate swimming and diving. MIAC was founded in 1920 and backs championships in 22 sports, 11 of which are female and 11 that are male. There are 13 Minnesota private, undergraduate schools a part of MIAC.

Hermandez-Nietling said, “I joined swimming because the girls seemed nice and supportive, and the coach was really cool.” Laurie joked that she joined the team to avoid the infamous freshman fifteen, but also because it would help her make friends as she started her first year at college. Meyer and Green spoke about their recruiting trip when explaining why they chose St. Kate’s as a school. The deciding factors were how welcoming the other swimmers on the team were and that Justin Zook, Head coach of St. Kate’s swimming and diving team, was helpful when answering questions about the school and program.

The girls talked about both the perks and challenges of being a student-athlete. Everyone who spoke with The Wheel agreed that swimming had helped them with time management skills. Quoting Laurie, “We are really busy, so we have to manage our time, and I think that is a really important skill.” However, being so busy brings about problems of fatigue and little free time. The students on the swim team practice about twenty hours a week, making it feel like a part-time job.

St. Kate’s Athletics twitter boasts about the swim team’s major accomplishment

To keep up with her school work, Green prioritizes what needs to be done first and makes sure to have a schedule written out, that way she can look ahead easily. Meyer feels she does better in season because she makes sure she knows what to do each day, so her assignments do not conflict with practice. McMahon forces herself to be efficient so that she can go to bed at a decent time. She fits in homework wherever she can, like in between class periods and during meal times.

Overall all five of these girls enjoy swimming and plan on continuing with the sport throughout their undergraduate career. They feel it has been an influential aspect of their college experience that they could not get anywhere else.

Coach Zook said, “I really don’t have much of a policy on academics; my philosophy is little more hands off.” However, he is strict in not allowing swimmers to miss practice unless it’s prearranged. He explains, “Some of it is learning how to sacrifice and how to make better choices because at the Division III level we don’t practice more than what they can handle by any means. So, it’s making sure that if there is a conflict (…) that they have a conversation about it and not just assume the option is to skip one of the other because in life you can’t do that.”

Zook is passionate about preparing his athletes for life outside of swimming. They have three 30-minute classroom periods a week to talk about anything other than the sport. In these sessions, the swimmers talk about everything from building relationships to communication to overcoming fear.

Coach Zook spoke about not just time management, but also free time when looking at academic balance. He feels this is important for students to grow in learning and as people. “Whatever you do, if you’re committed to it, really have a passion for learning and growing as a person, and put that first, those other things usually fall into place.”

Coach Zook is proud of his athletes for their achievements in the pool, in the classroom, and in the world. Zook said, “I think it’s a great reward, it’s a great recognition, I just don’t think that measures how well they are doing in our program or how much they are a part of a community here at St. Kate’s.

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