Trinity Swim & Dive made a splash in 2021-22 season

Coach Pruden and swimmers reflect on season

Upon finishing competition at the NCAA DIII National Championships in Indianapolis, Trinity Swim & Dive concluded their 2021-22 season on a high note. Across both Men’s and Women’s teams, Trinity sent 11 swimmers and two divers to the National Championships, which is a testament to their consistent excellence in SCAC competition.

A significant contribution to the Tigers’ success this season was the addition of new head coach Cathleen Pruden. Joining the Trinity University Athletic staff in June of 2021, Coach Pruden looked to make an immediate impact. As a former athlete at Mount Holyoke College (MA), Pruden was an All-American swimmer on four different occasions, a two-time New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year and a Top 30 honoree for the NCAA Woman of the Year.

It is safe to say that the national stage is familiar ground for Coach Pruden, and she was ready to give her Tigers advice in Indianapolis.

“This weekend at nationals, [a swimmer] said ‘it’s everybody’s first time [here].’ I said [to them], ‘it’s not my first time…I swam my first national meet in this pool’…I know where we are going to eat because I’ve been to this pool as an athlete and I’ve been to this pool as a coach,” Pruden said.

Having experience is a huge advantage when it comes to competing on the national stage, and Pruden has a lot of it after spending her last five seasons as an assistant coach at Bowdoin College (Maine) and Amherst College (Mass.), two top DIII programs on the East Coast.

From the men’s team, a swimmer whose experience this season was especially unique was Caleb Manifold. As a first-year from Helotes, Texas, Caleb chose Trinity after being recruited by the previous head coach. Despite the coaching change upon arriving on campus in the fall, Caleb embraced every challenge that Pruden put in front of him, and he ultimately proved to be one of the most improved swimmers on the men’s team.

Swimming in the 100 fly, 50 freestyle, and 100 freestyle, Caleb had some of the biggest drops in his times throughout the course of the season, and he credited much of his success to his coaches.

“[I improved] because of Coach Pruden’s technical work that we focused on at the beginning of the season. The same can be said for Coach Adrien [Downey], who is always on deck looking at what we can do and what we can fix. And then one of the bigger things for me was working with Coach Daniel Martinez, who has gotten us in the weight room and making sure that we’re doing the movements and preparing the muscles that we need to prepare,” Manifold said.

As for swimmers who were especially impactful to him this season, Manifold pointed to senior Daniel Sarman, a four-time SCAC Champion (200 back) and seven-time All-SCAC member. While Sarman was a major contributor to the team in the water, he was particularly impactful out of it. The senior from Austin, Texas held his team accountable, consistently demanding the best out of everyone away from the pool, which resulted in greater success on race day.

Regarding training in the water, Manifold noted how sophomore Michael Kohl brought intensity to each practice. Together, the two underclassmen were part of a relay team that also included Kendal Southwell and Nolan Anthony. As a group, the four raced to a new school record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:28.91, securing the eighth spot in the national finals. In the finals, the relay group raced to a 1:28.70, finishing eighth overall.

This relay team was not the only one to set a school record at nationals, as another team comprised of Michael Kohl, Nolan Anthony, Andrew Crosley and Caleb Manifold also set a new school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:20.80.

Turning to the women’s team, a notable stand-out was Katarina Partalas. As a diver for the Tigers, Partalas impressively earned third place in the three-meter dive at this year’s National Championships, being the sole Tiger from the women’s team to qualify for the championship final. On top of this accomplishment, the senior from San Antonio also secured first team All-American honors.

In the pool, Emma Hagan worked hard all year to earn her spot in the 50-yard freestyle in Indianapolis. While the sophomore from Overland Park, Kansas enjoyed her time at nationals, she noted that the highlight of her season came during the SCAC conference meet.

“I dropped at conference, so that was a big moment for me […] The conference meet was more special because the entire team was there cheering for each other […] It was also cool to see the seniors all together to have their last swim,” Hagan said.

When considering who stood out to her, Hagan mentioned fifth-year senior Mabel Fowler.

“[Mabel] being on the team for her fifth year was important because it showed her dedication [to us]. She did not have to be here this year […] She just really loved the sport. I think that’s good for the underclassmen to see that. She was also a student teacher, so she would swim really early in the morning and then go to her job or classes. It really showed her dedication to the sport and she was a really good role model for us all,” Hagan said.

Fowler was not the only workhorse on the women’s team this year, with Morgen Reyna, Jadyn Trahan, Caroline Myers and Meghan Magill placing 22nd in the 200-yard relay in Indianapolis.

Reyna’s teammates were quick to acknowledge how important her contributions were to training sessions this season. Hagan mentioned that each day, rain or shine, Reyna brought positivity to practice. When the going got tough during their six-month season, Reyna was there to lift her team up and give them the push they needed to get through a hard training session. With that said, it was not a surprise to see Reyna as one of the swimmers competing at nationals.

When looking toward the future of the program, Trinity Swim & Dive has a lot of potential. With a strong group of freshman and sophomores, Coach Pruden looks to elevate Trinity to a nationally recognized program.

“To be good nationally, we need to have good opportunities to swim against nationally-ranked programs. We created that opportunity for ourselves by going to Chicago and swimming against some of those teams,” Pruden said.

In year one at the helm of the Tigers, head coach Cathleen Pruden won SCAC Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year, sending the most swimmers and divers to a single national meet in school history. Between both the men’s and women’s teams, her Tigers have set more than 10 school records. With Pruden’s first recruiting class coming to Trinity next fall, the future only looks brighter for Trinity Swim & Dive.