The COVID-19 pandemic has halted the scheduling of sports and as a result, games, practices, and non-conference matches have been delayed. The men’s swim team has had multiple swim meets canceled. Fortunately, the team looks ahead to the conference meet in Feb.
The swimmers are back practicing as a team and the hope is for them to make it to the conference meet, even though there may not be any other meets this year.
The majority of the senior swimmers, from last year, have graduated. Now, the current junior class, led by Dom May, Billy Bennett, and Derek Eidson, is a heavy reliance for this year. Juniors Keenan Burgess and Rick Renner also lead the charge for the juniors.
“We have gone through so much individually and together as a team,” said team captain Billy Bennett. “You seem to feel as if there is a bubble around the team and the pool whenever you are together.”
As for training, the swimmers have daily afternoon practices in different groups, following the Valpo rules and regulations for sports teams and mandating social distancing. On top of that, the student-athletes also do workouts in the gym.
Since returning to her alma mater, Coach Maggie Kroemer has lifted the Valpo team to new heights and focuses on success in competitions.
“Coach Maggie, our head coach, has completely reshaped the atmosphere as well as coach us to be much more competitive in our conference,” Bennett said.
Kroemer has set a total of ten new school records, evenly distributed on the men’s and women’s teams. The most recent record set was by May, who swam a record-time in the 200 freestyle and finished in second place at February’s Summit League Championship last year.
This also gave recognition to May as he was the program’s first All-League honoree for the Valpo men since 2006.
Kroemer was also a four-year athlete for the Valpo women’s swim team [2001-2005]. She became an Academic All-Mid-Continent Conference honoree and she earned seven top-10 finishes over the course of her career.
“Her methods in coaching have made us more competitive in competitions and this allowed us to have a good-sized freshman class this year and grow in numbers,” Bennett said.
Eleven new freshmen joined the team this year.
As the swimmers prepare for the February meet, we must not forget the hard work and dedication it has taken for them to get here. Especially through a challenging semester with online classes, the life of a student-athlete has its twists and turns and its ups and downs.
“Of course it’s upsetting and frustrating about the season, but the team is ready. We’re looking fit and playing as a team. We’re ready to compete,” Eidson said.