JD Middleton, a senior on the Ball State men's swimming and diving team, starting swimming at 9 years old. Middleton started swimming at the New Castle swim club in elementary school. Breanna Daugherty // DN File
PREVIEW: Ball State men's swimming and diving vs. Eastern Michigan
The Ball State men’s swimming and diving team will travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan, Jan. 14 to face Eastern Michigan in a dual meet.
Head swimming coach Bob Thomas said Eastern Michigan will be a tough opponent for his team.
“We are going up against the best team in the MAC and in the Midwest,” Thomas said. “It is a great opportunity for us to swim against the best in the league.”
Top 5 athletes to watch for this meet:
1. Senior Tanner Barton (named MAC Swimmer of the Week)
2. Sophomore Cullen Tyler (breaststroke and IM events)
3. Senior Austin Green (sprint freestyle events)
4. Senior JD Middleton (distance free events)
5. Freshman Chase Jackson (backstroke events)
Out for this meet:
Lane Sawyer (Back problems)
Practices this week, Thomas said, have not been easy.
“We have been doing a lot of speed workouts,” Thomas said. “Now is the time to get it in, because in about a month from now we will have to start cutting back drastically.”
For this meet, sophomore Cullen Tyler has been working on breaststroke during practices. Tyler said practices have been good for him.
“During these practices, we have been doing 100s, 75s and 50s,” Tyler said. “It is all breaststroke and I just have to go fast as possible. It helps me get up and race in meets.”
Junior Banistre Lienhart said practices have been tough coming off of winter training.
“Over break, we really hit the pool hard," Lienhart said. “But it has been a good week of training this week.”
Lienhart agrees with his coach that this will be a tough meet for the team.
“It is a long drive, but we have seen them before and are familiar with their pool,” Lienhart said. “I feel like as long as we give it our all, we will be able to do really well.”
On the boards, head diving coach Nick Gayes said the divers are focusing on repetition and consistency rather than throwing in new routines.
“They are not really learning anything new at this point,” Gayes said. “They are still going through their same dives.”
But with going through their dives, Gayes said he wants them to focus on one thing: the mental game.
“We tend to get real nervous in competition when we do not need to be,” Gayes said. “I just want them to relax.”
Sophomore Gabe Dean has been working on the little things on his dives.
“Some things that I’m working on is trying to get my arms completely over my head and coming out vertical and sharp,” Dean said.
There are some dives Dean has had trouble with in past meets.
“My back two-and-a-half somersault is troublesome,” Dean said. “I can put it away sometimes and then like today I would go right onto my back and so it is kind of a crapshoot.”
Sophomore Lane Sawyer will not be competing in the meet due to back trouble.
“I have always had back problems, since high school,” Sawyer said. “I have been seeing the athletic trainer about the back problems.”
Sawyer saw his doctor on Jan. 12. He said his timetable for a return is yet to be determined.
The meet starts at 1 p.m. at Eastern Michigan.