In the first two meets of the season, the freshmen class has a total of 10 first through fifth finishes.
Freshman Katie Walker has led her class with three of those finishes, two coming in the last meet against Bowling Green.
“I didn’t expect to go a best time at the start of the season,” Walker said. “I think it’s a mixture of the different environment and the coaches having a lot of energy.”
The freshmen class will have an opportunity this weekend to keep that success going as the Cardinals have two home meets against Eastern Illinois and Akron. Head coach Jeremy Agnew said it’s unique for one class to make an impact at the beginning of the season.
“Their improvement and work ethic has been awesome in practice, and their energy is high,” Agnew said. “This is a class that’s hungry to succeed, and they’re showing they came here to compete.”
As a whole, Agnew said this class is on a learning curve.
“I think they are all learning, adjusting and growing at their own rate,” Agnew said. “What I love is that they are working together to help each other through it.”
To senior Mikayla Dostall, the freshman class is changing the team culture from a negative experience to a positive one.
“The way they got out of their races and they were happy all of the time,” Dostall said. “I think it really is showing the upperclassmen how we should be swimming.”
For this success to continue throughout the season, Agnew said the freshmen need to remember one thing: this is only the beginning.
“We have good goals, and we’re nowhere near where we want to be at as a team,” Agnew said. “I think if you ask any swimmer here, we want to be a lot better. I think we’re all just going to take that a step at a time and keep celebrating our success and move forward.”
There are 14 upperclassmen on the roster, and half of them are seniors. Agnew said upperclassmen leadership is something the freshmen have been feeding off of.
“This is a high energy environment and I think everyone is working together,” Agnew said. “The freshmen feel like they have a family here and they have support.”
On Saturday, the Cardinals host Akron, the defending Mid-American Conference champions.