Swimming and diving set for inaugural MVC championship appearance
The UALR Swimming and Diving team is set to compete for a championship in the team’s inaugural season as members of the Missouri Valley Conference when the meet kicks of Feb. 13 in Carbondale, Ill.
Like other UALR sports, the swimming and diving team has historically competed in the Sun Belt Conference, but after several schools left the Sun Belt Conference in the offseason, UALR was best suited to seek competition in another conference.
In their first year in the MVC, the team managed to collect three-team wins- two of which came against Maryville in St. Louis and the other coming against Ouachita Baptist University.
With this being UALR’s first season in the MVC and with nine freshmen on the roster, head coach Amy Burgess said it was important to get the team in meets that would test their abilities and help get them ready to make a memorable appearance at their first MVC championships.
Burgess lined up meets against non-conference opponents such as those from Kansas University (the coach’s alma mater), Vanderbilt and Rice.
“As we develop and grow as a team,” Burgess said, “our level of competition must grow as well and this season was a big step toward what we are becoming.”
“I do think the team was successful in learning how to deal with tough competition and become stronger as a group.”
Senior Kara Raney has been sharing her words of wisdom throughout the season to help motivate this young, developing team.
“(The freshmen) are experienced club swimmers and know what it’s like to swim at a big meet like this,” she said. “But conference is more competitive and (offers) a great chance for each swimmer to show off their hard work from the year.”
Including Raney, there are 17 swimmers and divers on the team this year, compared to just 13 on last season’s squad.
In addition to the tough competition faced during the season, Burgess said having more student-athletes on the roster would provide them with opportunities to compete in more events and score more points than in previous championship meets.
“We are in a position to score more points than previous years, but we also have a few swimmers that can finish in the top 8 of their events. We also have relays to watch for that could place [in the] top 3.”
Burgess said she expects her team’s hard work to pay off when the team competes Feb. 13 – 15 at Dr. Edward Shea Natatorium on the campus of Southern Illinois University
“You will see some previous recorder holders better their marks, as well as some new folks stepping up to change names,” the coach said. “The team has been looking great in practice and getting better every day.”
The Missouri Valley Conference plans to stream live video of the championship, beginning 6 p.m. Feb. 13. Fans can also follow the events via Twitter, using the hashtag #MVCSWIMDIVE.