By Annie Erickson
In the 2018-19 season, the Lewis & Clark swim team is looking to improve individual times, while collect victories as a team in the conference. They have already picked up two big wins at home due to fast runs by promising freshmen and proven returners. The team is motivated by an award-winning coach and strong leaders who are focused on team chemistry.
In preparation for the season, swimmers spent the summer training individually, focusing on their specific event. Towards the start of the school year, they came together for group practices to prepare for the first meet. These practices offered a great opportunity for the team to bond in the water. This winter the team is going to Los Angeles, Calif. for their training program. While they have participated in this program in the past, this is their first time attending in the last four years. The program allows the team to train in a new environment and participate in a practice meet against Whittier College.
The team is lead by head coach Chris Fantz who is entering his 12th season as head coach and has two Northwest Conference Coach of the Year awards under his belt. He is assisted by alumnus Sarit Glutz ’09 and Bill Patterson who are now in their fifth seasons as assistant coaches. These experienced coaches provide the team with technical and consistent leadership.
Aside from the coaches, the team captains play a substantial role in leading the team during the season. Men’s Captain Ben Virgin ’20 believes his responsibility is to be an upbeat presence on the team
“My role is to be a good teammate and a pillar of kindness for the team,” Virgin said. I try to be a force of morale and camaraderie because I think that is the most important part.”
Women’s captain Kassie Kometani ’19 places emphasis on connecting with the younger players and being a strong leader.
“I wanted to get to know the freshmen on the team and make sure they feel welcome and make sure they know this is a space to grow as teammates,” Kometani said. “I also organize events such as taking the team out to ice cream and having spaghetti dinners before meets.”
This year’s men’s team welcomes two first years to the program and 12 returning swimmers.. The women’s team also has 12 returning swimmer and has introduced six freshmen, which is one of the largest freshmen classes the team has had in recent history.
Kometani is very excited about what the new class brings to the program.
“We are really excited about having a bigger freshmen class on the women’s side because they add a lot of depth to the team and we are excited to see what they can do,” Kometani said.
Kometani is in her second year as captain and this experienced leadership has been instrumental in helping the freshmen class adjust and subsequently succeed in the pool.
Highly touted freshman Alys Chang ’22, whose commitment to LC was announced in the Swimmer World magazine, definitely recognizes the support from her captain and the team. Chang was an incredibly successful swimmer in high school, and she drew national attention from several colleges. During her high school career, her 100 meter and 200 meter breaststroke times of 1:10.75 and 2:28.72 would have made her the fastest breaststroke swimmer at LC.
Chang has recognized the difficulty of adjusting to college and performing in the pool.
“I think the season is going alright. Obviously the adjustment was not easy, but everything is running pretty smoothly,” Chang said.
As a competitor Chang is still trying to achieve her potential in meets.
“I am always nit-picking at my performance, whether it be my splits or times, overall feeling during the race, or my preparation so right now I am not satisfied,” Chang said.
For their first meet, they lost to a talented University of Puget Sound squad on Nov. 2. The men’s team lost 120-85 and the women’s team lost 124-79. The teams then lost to Pacific Lutheran the next day on Nov. 3. The men’s team lost by a score of 149-55 and the women’s team lost by a smaller margin of 125-80.
Despite the loss, Kometani won the 100 meter and 200 meter freestyle and Eleanor Gerrior ’19 won the 50 meter freestyle. On the men’s side, August Bergh ’19 won the 200 meter freestyle and Kyle Monteleone ’21 won the 1,000 meter freestyle.
In both of these meets, the Pios were facing much larger teams, yet their ability to collect individual wins gave the team some positive takeaways and opportunity to grow together as a team.
Their third meet yielded wins for both teams against George Fox on Nov. 16. The freshmen swimmers contributed a lot to this meet with Caroline Karson ’22 winning the 200 breaststroke and JP Greener ’22 winning the 100 freestyle. The fourth meet against Pacific University, LC again won handily with the men’s team winning by a score of 151-35 and the women winning 153-46 on Nov. 17. This gives the team an undefeated record at home which has been the highlight of the year for captains Kometani and Virgin.
“This gives us a huge morale boost heading into conference and the rest of the season,” Virgin said. The teams conference begins on Feb. 7.