Splashing around

Spinnaker

The University of North Florida swimming and diving team has one recurring theme thus far in its season: to be the best, you have to beat the best.

Coach Beth Harrell has taken a roster laden with freshmen and few upperclassmen and pitted them against world-class talent. The team’s stiffest test came in its first meet of the season at the Florida Invitational. At the meet, the team faced the likes of the University of Florida, Florida State University, the University of Miami and many other tough competitors.

“The freshmen have led in different ways and at different times,” Harrell said. “Katie England, Gala Poon and Sara Evans are the ones that have stood by our program and have led our large group of freshmen.”

The freshmen have taken the reins in many of the events and displayed the leadership needed to be successful at the collegiate level. The freshman class showed its growing maturity in the 500-yard freestyle. UNF was the only school on the winner’s podium at the end of the event as Christine Kemp, Kristina Alexiou and Rebeca Bernard finished in that order.

In swimming, depth is an issue for many teams, and it is one that UNF has struggled with throughout the season.

Depth is not a huge factor at the smaller meets, but when the team swims in meets that hold a large number of events, the lack of depth shows. Some athletes are forced to swim more than usual, which plays a big part in where each swimmer ends up on the podium.

“We have to work on our sprint freestyle,” Harrell said. “We don’t have a big group there, and that affects our relays … that is something we will work on and build on for next year.”

Although many of the students at UNF went on break over the holidays, the swimming and diving team did not. The team constantly ran stadiums, ran long distance, lifted weights and continued training as usual.

The Jan. 7 results reflected the team’s hard work. Multiple swimmers improved their career best times at the meet.

“I feel like I came in with a better mindset from last night,” Kemp said. “I just wanted to get my stroke down, keep my technique sound and stay positive through my many races.”

Julia Moonaw, a junior from Orlando, was honored with the Coastal Collegiate Diver of the Week earlier in the season. With this season’s honor Moonaw now has six in her career.

The Ospreys will compete again at the Coastal Collegiate Conference Meet starting on Feb. 16 in Athens, GA.

 

Nathan Flom
Email Nathan at [email protected]
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