by Sena Hughes
The Whitworth swim season kicked off Saturday afternoon as the team took an overall second at the Logger Relays in Federal Way, Wash.
The Pirates placed behind Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Claremont, Calif.) and finished in front of Northwest Conference rival, University of Puget Sound. CMS is reputably one of the best NCAA division III swim programs in the nation.
“For us it was sort of a reality check. If we want to be the best in DIII it’s what we need to aspire to be,” head coach Steve Schadt said.
Senior Rory Buck, swam well for the Pirates.
“Rory swam some really nice events,” Schadt said. “His breaststroke time is probably leading the country again.”
Though pleased with today’s performance, Buck knows this is only the beginning of a long season. He recognizes there is time for growth and progress.
“Being early in our season we’re still laying our foundation. The first meet is always hard to get up and get going fast right away,” Buck said.
On the women’s side, standout performances from freshman Samantha Smith and Nicole Lecoq encouraged Schadt. The women’s team only raced 15 of the 20 members due to injury and illness yet beat a Puget Sound team of 30 competitors.
The team was coming off a tough week of practice and is aware that there is room for improvement. Paying attention to little details such as starts and turns will be a focus for Whitworth this season.
“[There are] definitely some technical elements we need to improve,” Buck said. “As the season goes on and we get some racing experience under our belt we’ll get sharper.”
Hopes are high for the rest of the season. The Whitworth men defend 7 NWC titles while the women have earned two in the last four years. Individually, Buck is returning to his senior season as reigning NCAA breaststroke champion. Whitworth swims again Friday night as they host the NWC sprint pentathlon meet.
“It’s fun to be competing and to be in the middle of the season again,” Schadt said. “I feel really good about the chemistry of the group. I have a lot of optimism and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this year.”