As mid-October rolled around, many sports teams began their rigorous practices, and this included the men’s and women’s Swim and Dive team. While they do compete in October, November is really when they dive into their competitive season. So what’s in store for both teams as competition begins? I caught up with Jake Taber, Kyle Harvey and Sarah Kilbride for a season preview.
With Albion’s admission numbers increasing, I was curious how as to how they would translate over to the rosters. With each of the teams being comprised of about one-third first-years, the number of incoming students at Albion who decide to continue to swim after high school is pretty strong.
“Over the course of the last six years I think our roster size has steadily grown and right now, given our facility, we have as many swimmers as we can handle,” said Jake Taber, the Swim Team’s Head Coach. “I think we could probably support a couple more divers, but rosters are certainly healthy at this point and I think that depth from top to bottom, as well as breadth from one event to another can hopefully create some opportunities for us this year.”
Having a breadth of swimmers coming in across the events can be difficult for a Division III college to recruit.
“We don’t get to play with scholarships; we have nothing to do with financial aid. Anyone that comes here is coming here for the same reasons that any other student is on campus, without any sort of financial benefit [for choosing to swim],” said Taber. “When you look at those DI and DII programs, they get to play general manager and go ‘Well hey, we need a sprinter or we need a breaststroker or an IMer’ or a what have you, and at the DIII level we don’t have that luxury.”
The Men’s Team
Last year, the men completed their season with an MIAA championship, leaving a bit of a target on their backs. However, men’s team co-captain Kyle Harvey, a senior from Milan, Michigan, would like to keep last season in the past and start thinking about this year.
“As a captain, my goals for this team are to focus on what this team can accomplish. People keep referring to last year and what that team was able to accomplish, but last year has no bearing on this year. It’s in the past,” said Harvey via email. “My goal is for this team to work as hard as it can and show the conference what we can do because we have the talent and the work ethic to make our mark on the MIAA once again.”
Both Harvey and Taber agree that the first meet of the men’s season against Wabash (who is nationally-ranked at 18) was a good base point for where they need to improve throughout the season. Ultimately, Albion lost 184.5-131.5, but it allowed the team’s potential to show through. Shelby Township, Michigan, first-year Jake Huttenlocher had two individual event wins (the 500-yard freestyle and the 400 yard IM) and was a runner-up (200-yard freestyle) at the Wabash meet. As a result, he was named MIAA Swimmer of the Week. Junior Jake Maurer from Lake Orion, Michigan was named MIAA Diver of the Week for his performance at Wabash as well. They took third at a Quad meet against Carthage College, Calvin College and Ohio Northern University.
The men’s team has a couple of All-American swimmers returning as well as a group of All-Conference honorees. Jake Burris, a junior from Chelsea, Michigan, has been the conference MVP in diving the last two years and is also returning for the Brits again this year.
The Women’s Team
Last year, the women’s team finished fourth at MIAA and as Taber put it, “I don’t think that was okay with them.”
Speaking with Bloomfield Hills, Michigan senior and women’s co-captain Sarah Kilbride, their dissatisfaction with last year’s finish rang through.
“Before [the] season started, we did goal-setting together as a team. The women’s team’s primary goal this season is to move up (place-wise) at MIAA championships,” said Kilbride.
The incoming group of swimmers will be a big help towards achieving that goal. Kilbride feels that based on speed, the team is already doing better than in the past.
Luckily, they have been able to fill some of the holes left by graduated seniors. Taber pointed to the women’s breaststrokers in particular, saying that although they graduated some of their top swimmers in that event, they were able to gain a few strong swimmers to take their place.
“We’re blessed with a transfer [Rileigh Eding] from Oakland University that I think will come in and already in practice – both in training and when you’ve gotten up to the blocks and put some watches on things – she has already elevated the level of the program,” said Taber.
Now as part of the Britons, Eding – a sophomore from Hamilton, Michigan – has already proved herself by being awarded MIAA Swimmer of the Week two times this season.
So far this season, the women’s team lost to Hillsdale (152-136) and placed second in a quad meet against Calvin College, Carthage College and Ohio Northern University. The quad meet was a close one with them taking second by only one point.
Photo courtesy of Albion Athletics.
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