By Sadhna Ramanathan
At the MIAA conference meet from February 15-18, the Albion Men’s Swim and Dive team splashed into first place. Beating the defending champions, Calvin College, the Brits earned their first swimming title since 1971. The team won all five relays, and 12 individuals won their events.
Dominating the four-day meet, Albion College beat out Calvin 985 to 772 respectively.
“The team mentality from the get-go was knowing that we had a shot,” said Kyle Harvey, a junior from Livonia, Michigan, and co-captain of the team. “Our kind of mantra from the beginning is that pressure is a privilege and knowing that there was some pressure on us to get things done with the talent and efforts that we’ve been building on. The program has been getting better and better each year, and finally we capitalized on our opportunities and won ourselves a championship.”
Prompted by Assistant Coach Mary Ann Egnatuk, the captains, Harvey and Holland-native Derek Bosko, worked during the off-season to help bring the team together.
“We gave the captains some homework over the summer to come up with some things that this program wants to be about both in and out of the water, at home and on campus: the type of human being that we want representing this program,” said Head Coach Jake Taber. “I think that that was something that certainly made a difference for the season.”
Currently ranked 15th in Division III by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), Albion’s win was made even sweeter with the announcement of the all-MIAA athletes. Out of the 17 swimmers, eight were from Albion: Parker Belmore, Gerardo Huidobro, Derek Bosko, Tyler Kimbrell, Nate Kozycki, Ian Moran, Alec Nyboer and Sebastian Tostado. From the three all-MIAA divers, two were from Albion: Henry Swett and Jake Burris.
Burris and Tostado were announced Most Valuable Diver and Most Valuable Swimmer, respectively. Tostado clocked three individual titles and a conference record, and Burris championed both the one and three meter dives.
According to first-year Ian Moran from Adrian, Michigan, the team is a close-knit family. “Every guy on the team supports one another and has each other’s back no matter what. The men and women work together everyday. It’s the reason the women joined us on the podium and celebrated with us.”
Coach Taber emphasizes that the team stands in solidarity and works cohesively. “We had our sense of self. I think when the guys realized that they were part of something bigger than themselves, they were able to dig a little bit deeper and that’s what we saw this weekend: a total team effort. Whether you were going to be the league MVP, or you were one of the guys that maybe wasn’t on the quote unquote scoring roster, everybody factored in to this win. I think they understood that everyone had a role [in the win].”
The team maintained a unified front throughout the season, especially during the four-day conference.
“I think we started winning events that maybe others wouldn’t have pegged us as the favorite in,” said Taber. “We had great morale, and I think with each event our belief system got a little bit stronger and a little more positive. And I think that was something that became contagious with our team dynamic and the feel that we had on the pool deck.”
Photo courtesy of Albion Athletics