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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
Assistant Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan Poe April 12, 2024

NMU dives into season

With the new academic school year comes a new season for the NMU Swimming and Diving squad, and before the athletes had much time to acclimate to school, they found themselves preparing for impending competitions. Since Aug. 26, head coach Bob Laughna has had the swimmers running, performing dry land exercises and swimming to get ready for the season.


Coming off a disappointing seventh place finish out of eight teams at last year’s Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) swimming and diving meet, the team now knows what it will take to succeed against perennial conference powerhouses like Grand Valley State and Wayne State University.

“I think we were just shocked at the competition,” said newly appointed team captain Emily Olson. “But this year we more know what to expect.”

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Coach Laughna said he believed this year’s squad has what it will take to compete successfully, but added that the road to success will not be an easy one to travel as the team lost many top performers.

So many producers left, in fact, that Laughna said he considered the team to be “back to square one.” The squad was left with no returning captains after seniors Sarah Dobratz and Mimi Marschall graduated. Emily Olson and Lindsey Kuehn will replace them. Also gone from last year’s team are Sarah van Oss, Kate Willems, and Meghan Merkey. Merkey graduated and was unable to compete for much of last year due to injury; Willems transferred and van Oss left the team. All told, Dobratz, Marschall and van Oss had a hand in 135 points out of the teams final 179 at the conference meet and occupied 12 of the 16 relay positions.

With the losses, coach Laughna is looking to his veteran swimmers as well as five new athletes to step up this year. Margaret Deppen, Kelli Dutton, Stephanie Rogaczewski and Catherine Sromek all bring new faces to the team. Also joining them is Elyse Sawka, who Laughna said experienced success as a triathlete this summer. He added that Sromek’s backstroke abilities will fill a hole the team badly needs filled.

Laughna said he has already seen a noticeable rise in motivation from last year, and he is looking to everybody to step up this season. Despite his reluctance to single swimmers out, he did comment on his excitement over senior Lindsey Kuehn’s motivation and progress.

Kuehn spent her summer training independently, and said she was disappointed in her performance at last year’s GLIAC meet. She finished 30th in the 500-yard freestyle, 20th in the 1650-yard freestyle and 26th in the 1000-yard freestyle. Having asked Laughna for summer training ideas, Kuehn set herself on having a sensational final year.

“It’s my senior year, and I want to go out with a bang” Kuehn said. She added she would like to qualify for the finals at GLIACs, swim times comparable to what she did in high school and help keep the other girls motivated.

Coach Laughna has already noticed her getting better.

“She’s looking good so far, I think she’ll make a big improvement this year. She sets high goals for herself.”


When assessing the competitiveness of this year’s squad, it’s tough to miss the past successes of divers Kelli and Kara Vander Baan. They will both return, and will again be the only divers for the NMU squad. Laughna said the sisters should be ready to keep the team in meets, a sentiment shared by Olson.

“They play a big role,” Olson said. “Especially since they’re good.”

In addition to their talent and sibling rivalry, Kelli brings another asset to the team this season. She qualified for the National competition last year and finished 12th in the 3-meter diving event. From last year’s success, Kelli brings a measure of experience to her sophomore year. Coach Laughna hopes to use this to motivate the team.

“Anything can be done if you put your mind to it,” Laughna said. “It’s been done in the past, it can be done.”

The season was off to a great start before it ever began, as the PEIF pool received its first cleaning in seven years over the summer. However, time will tell if the rest of the Wildcat’s season ends favorably.

The team kicks off its season Oct. 4 with the Green and Gold meet at the PEIF pool.

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