Men’s and women’s swim and dive teams finish strong at the Trinity University Western Shootout

The Trinity Tigers swimming and diving teams made their marks at the Trinity University Western Shootout, held at the Carroll Independent School District Natatorium on Friday, Nov. 22, and Sunday, Nov. 24.

Trinity’s women placed second (713.5 points) behind NAIA national women’s and men’s champion Oklahoma Baptist University (948). The Tiger men were third (494), as OBU (818) emerged as the winner, and Henderson State University (617.5) was runner-up. Ten teams competed in each of the meets.

“If we are to achieve good things, we must first have our swimmers and divers establish a plan for the rest of their season. Then they have to have a plan for each and every day between now and then.  Finally, they have to have the self-discipline to execute their daily plan and work towards great end-of-season performances. There’s a mental side to this as well as the day-to-day dedication that’s got to be there. Confidence comes from doing the work and then believing in yourself.  Then, if you can visualize it, you can most likely do it,” said head swim coach John Ryan.

In addition to exemplary times and scores, the Tigers posted season-leading marks in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Sophomore Kara Beauchamp, the 2013 SCAC Female Swimmer of the Year, won the 200-yard individual medley at 2:11.82 minutes. Beauchamp also captured the 400 IM, clocking in at 4:39.77.

Sophomore Becca Bond placed second in the 100 backstroke, with a SCAC-best time of 1:00.06. Senior Melanie Gustafson, the second-place finisher in the 1,650 freestyle, registered a time of 18:06.12. She also was runner-up in the 500 freestyle (5:20.67).  Junior Lydia Jones, in fourth place in the 50-yard freestyle, swam the event in 25.14.

“Considering my performance at this meet, I am very excited to see how the rest of the season goes. I am also very excited for the whole girls’ team. They really stepped it up in Dallas, and I know we are on our way to completing one of our best seasons yet,” said Jones.

The Tiger women swam conference-leading times in the 200 freestyle relay, the 200 medley relay, the 400 medley relay, and the 400 freestyle relay. Jones, senior Rachel Berude, first year Kate Bommer and Beauchamp were runners-up in the 200 free relay at 1:41.29. In the 400 medley relay, the third-place team of Bond, junior Kelly Holton, senior Meghan Varner and Jones clocked in at 4:07.45. The Tigers finished in the No. 2 slot of the 400 freestyle relay, at 3:41.96. The third-place team of Bond, Holton, Beauchamp and Jones recorded a time of 1:51.76 in the 200 medley relay.

Sophomore All-American diver Ashley Heline won the women’s 1-meter board (249.50) and the 3-meter event (299.65).

“We are preparing for the rest of the season by focus on our weakest dives now, so by the time conference comes in February, we all have very strong lists,” Heline said.

Sophomore Andrew Thiesse was the only men’s event winner for the Tigers on Saturday, racing to the finish in 16:41.86 in the 1,650 freestyle.  He now leads the SCAC in the 500 free, the 1,650 free, the 400 IM and the 200 backstroke.

“This year the team is looking beyond winning conference. We hope to move on to the national level with a bigger presence than Trinity has ever had before,” said Thiesse.

Sophomore Nikita Chirkov completed the men’s 200 IM in 2:02.00 for a 10th-place finish. Junior Stephen Culberson swam the 50 freestyle in 21.13, and finished in third place. Senior Lucas Belury was runner-up in the 1,650 freestyle (17:05.58).

The third-place 200 freestyle relay unit of junior Adam Thomas, Culberson, sophomore Jon Hoffman, and first year Jacob Spitz posted a mark of 1:26.17. Culberson, sophomore Thomas Jones, Spitz, and Thomas were fifth-place finishers in the 200 medley relay (1:38.01). Trinity was also runner-up in the 400 freestyle relay (3:12.22).

Sophomore Philip Whalen was the top-finishing diver at the Western Shootout. He scored 143.40 points on the six-dive 1-meter board, and 132.55 in the 3-meter event, which also consisted of six dives.

“Being halfway through the season, the preparation put in up to now has been getting our voluntary dives where they need to be, now comes our optional dives, which are our harder dives. Preparing for conference not only consists of our dives, though. It also consists of maintaining a good mental game, as diving is half physical and half mental,” said Whalen.

The Trinity swim and dive also swept weekly SCAC titles, with Thiesse, Jones, Heline, and Whalen all receiving honors for their performance at the Shootout.

The Trinity Winter Diving Invitational will be held Jan. 10 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Then, Trinity’s teams host Centenary College (La.), a SCAC member, on Jan. 17 at Hixon Natatorium. The Tiger Diving Invitational is slated for Jan. 17-18.