Swimming makes splash at GLIACs

By Cody Boyer

Last weekend, the Northern Michigan swimming and diving team travelled to Jenison, Mich., to compete in the 2012 GLIAC Championships, and finished in fourth place out of nine other teams.

The Wildcats began on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and concluded on Saturday, Feb. 11. Head coach Heidi Voigt said the ’Cats came out ahead of Lewis, Lake Erie, Ashland, Findlay and Hillsdale.

“We did amazing,” Voigt said. “Everyone swam great and did an outstanding job, making us come out in fourth by a long shot. The team is used to the travel, and they adapt really well over long distance.”

At the end of the first day’s events, the ’Cats were in fourth place, with Wayne State, Grand Valley, and the University of Indianapolis ahead.

Freshman Jordan Iverson placed 10th in the 1,000-yard freestyle with freshman Tara Dowling placing 13th, while junior Lindsay Stedman and senior Steph Rogaczewski also swam in the event. Freshman Sophia Garris placed seventh in the three-meter dive.

Freshman Emily Bourguinon, junior Olga Budiansky, freshman Deborah Lawrence, and junior Kelsey Sipple all placed fifth in the 200-yard medley relay.

Voigt said, although nerves were felt going into the championship, the team was able to bring a strong effort early in the weekend to bring about a solid fourth.

“We were a little nervous,” Voigt said. “We finished last year in seventh place, but our first day set it all up for the rest of the weekend. Everyone performed great.”

The ’Cats performed strongly as they moved into Friday’s events, freshman Emily Brennan took second place in the 400-yard individual medley, breaking a school record with a time of 4:27.97 and is an NCAA provisional qualifier.

In the event. Freshman Madisen Sechena placed fourth and Iverson placed seventh in the same event. Sechena also took seventh place in the 100-yard butterfly.

Ranking eighth in GLIAC standings, Voigt said the Wildcats are placing higher than they have in a long time.

“We learned a lot from this meet,” Voigt said. “It is an entirely different atmosphere than last season, with nine top-10 finishes. I’m really impressed and proud of the team.”

On Saturday, Junior Gaby Alzaga highlighted the ‘Cats’ performance in the tournament. Alzaga placed second in the 200-yard backstroke, with Freshman Emily Bourguignon placing right behind her in third.

Alzaga said the team had set goals prior to the events, and they had surpassed them by the end.

“I turned my shoulder a while ago, so I wasn’t sure if could do it,” Alzaga said. “I did it to prove to myself that I could and I did it. I was really excited.”

Dowling said thinking about the things she does in practice helps during races. Dowling placed seventh in the 1650-yard freestyle.

“Long and strong,” Dowling said. “Heidi always tells us to focus on that in practice, and I just kept repeating that to myself the whole time.”

Final rankings for the tournament had Wayne State University in first place, Grand Valley in second, Indianapolis in third, Northern Michigan in fourth, followed by Ashland, Hillsdale, Findlay, Lewis, and then Lake Erie.

“We showed everyone we could do it, and we all performed awesomely,” Alzaga said.

Voigt said she was happy to see members of Northern Michigan’s administration also attending the meet.
“It’s great to see administration at meets,” Voigt said. “They did a good job so I could do my job.”

The team is awaiting selections for the NCAA Championship, which will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28 in Mansfield, Texas.

“The coach wanted greatness and we brought it up. Everyone did so well, and we all came out champions,” Dowling said.