Men's swimming and diving travels to Eastern Michigan after two week break
After two weeks off from competition, Ball State men’s swimming and diving returns to action for the two-day invitational at Eastern Michigan. Head coach Bob Thomas said his team has been tapered for this meet.
“With taper, the whole idea is to reduce stress," Thomas said. "I can’t control reducing their mental stress; they have to deal with that. But they do have a lot of school stress at this time of the year and you just hope that they can regulate the best they can. Physically they are ready to go for Friday.”
This year, as compared to last season’s invite, there will be four teams participating. However, the competition will still be there.
TEAMS COMPETING IN THE INVITE
Eastern Michigan, Tiffin and Wayne State will be the three teams competing at this year's invite.
Eastern Michigan comes into this meet with a 3-1 record. In its past meets, Eastern Michigan has outscored its opponents by 80 points. An athlete to watch out for is sophomore Jacob Ehrman in the 500-yard freestyle. Ehrman is ranked second on the team with a time of 4:40.84. In the 50-yard freestyle, an athletes to look out for is freshman Carter Swift, who recorded a 20.85 in his last meet against Oakland.
Tiffin, who Ball State has already faced and beat, will be there as well.
“Tiffin has a few individuals that are a lot better than we have,” Thomas said.
Since the meet against Ball State, Tiffin has faced another NCAA Division II opponent in Findlay. Two athletes to watch for are freshman Nathan Marr in the 500-yard freestyle (5:02.99) and sophomore Jonah Sumfleth in the 50-yard freestyle (21.60).
The final opponent is Wayne State. Last year at NCAA Division II swimming and diving championships, the Warriors finished 16 out of 32 teams. This season, the Warriors come into the meet on a three-meet winning streak, with a pair of victories over other Division II teams. Two athletes to watch for are seniors Tyler Roshak in the 100-yard freestyle (46.80) and Khayman Jones in one-meter diving, who has a season-best of 257 points.
Thomas said this meet is going to be a fast one.
“It’s a fast pool and we’re going to go up there to swim fast," Thomas said. "The goal is to achieve our personal-best at this time."
ATHLETES TO WATCH FOR
At practice this week, Ball State senior Isaac Walling said his focus has been on pacing himself for distance events.
“Pacing is a big thing for distance swimmers," Walling said. "I need to just try and get in, feel a groove and make sure I can hold a fast pace without getting overworked. I want to be able to repeat that again in the 1600, 1000 or even the 500."
For his pacing, it just depends on the day. Usually he holds under 30 seconds for his 50s for long sets, or right around a minute.
Right now, Walling is second on the team in the 500-yard freestyle with a 5:00.29 behind freshmen Davis Meyn. Walling said the friendly competition has been fun.
“I think as a freshman coming in, Davis has great potential," Walling said. "I like to have someone to chase after. If he’s ahead of me, I’ll chase after him. If he’s right with me, I’ll keep pace with him. If he’s a little behind me, I’ll see if I can nudge him up and keep him in pace with me.”
Last year at this invite, he placed fourth in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Walling said he’s not sure if he can reach fourth place again, but will be trying.
“I am really trying to find my pace and get up there again," Walling said. "I really love swimming the mile, because it’s all about strategy."
Another athlete to watch for is sophomore Ben Andrew, who's focus has been on his breakouts, which are a couple of strokes off of each wall.
“The last couple meets we have been pretty beat up, when we get ready to race," Andrew said. "Now with this rest, we all are expecting pretty good times. As a team, we’re really ready to go fast and see what we can put up."
This season, Andrew has been around his times, in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events, from last year at this time.
“I’m pretty happy where I’m coming in right now," Andrew said. "I’m closer than I was last year, when I was well rested. So I’m ready to get going."
DIVING INTO EMU INVITE
After the Thanksgiving break, head diving coach Nick Gayes said his team looked a little rusty.
“It’s just really hard to get diving time," Gayes said. "You can't find a place to dive all the time.”
At this point of the season, Gayes said the diving team is making progress.
“We’re seeing some things start to come together a little more consistently and frequently," Gayes said. "We want to see if we can put together some lists, test ourselves and do them back-to-back days in more of a conference like format against a lot of the divers we will see at conference."
For junior diver Gabe Dean, the off time was a good and bad thing.
“It’s bad because it takes away that weekly rhythm," Dean said. "You get out of the rhythm of doing your dives for practice and then having a meet at the end of the week. We just have to have the right mindset that our bodies are going to feel good and know what we’re doing and we know how to do the dives.”
On the team, Dean ranks second in points scoring on one-meter behind freshmen Sean Wolfe, with 197.10 points.
“I have no will if somebody does a dive better than I did. It’s just competition and motivation for me to get better. If you are getting better, then you’re pushing the guy next to do the same,” Dean said.
For both the swimming and diving team, this meet will mark the end of the fall season. Thomas said his team is on track.
“The guys are improving and we got a lot of season ahead of us,” Thomas said. “We haven’t hit the halfway point of the season, yet.”
The two-day meet starts on Friday in Ypsilanti, Mich. at the Michael H. Jones Natatorium.
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