The Albion College men’s swim and dive team may not have spent as much time relaxing over winter break as most students.
Their continued work in the pool led to ranking as high as No. 20 in the nation on Jan. 15 in the Endless Pools/CollegeSwimming.com poll. And with the MIAA championships beginning Feb. 12, the Brits seem to be peaking at exactly the right time.
“We broke 19 school records last season and returned every single school record holder from the bunch last year,” said Jake Taber, head coach. “That group has come back motivated for an encore performance.”
The Britons are a combined 5-1 in head-to-head meets with victories over MIAA rivals Kalamazoo, Alma and Hope. Their only loss came to Calvin in October.
While much of their success has come from the talented returners working hard in the off-season, Taber was able to bring in some good first-year talent that has helped get the team to this point.
“We had [first-years] that weren’t backing down from conference champions and school record-holders early in the season,” Taber said. “I have been very pleasantly surprised with the immediacy that the freshmen raised our training standards.”
AJ Mattson, Davisburg first-year, is one of the team’s first-years who felt comfortable with the team quickly and found his niche early with the team.
“One of the reasons I’m swimming here at Albion is the team spirit and camaraderie,” Mattson said. “The friendship continues to amaze me. Through this atmosphere we can work so much harder as a team.”
Many teams have great camaraderie, but even that sometimes cannot propel a team to a high level of success. A strong work ethic, notably in a long season like swimming, becomes increasingly important. According to Taber, that is exactly what this team has.
“Despite the grueling nature of our season and its duration, we’ve been focused,” Taber said. “I think this group has done a nice job of staying on task and putting the work in even when they didn’t feel great in the water.”
The group will continue to work hard as they wrap up their regular season on Feb. 1 at Olivet. Then, it is on to the MIAA Championships.
“Our expectations are high after last year’s success,” Mattson said. “With so many team records broken, we wish to continue in that trend, and compete as a conference power.”
Photo courtesy of Albion College Sports Information