Looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance at the Lindenwood-St. Charles meet two weeks ago, the nationally-ranked Truman State University swim teams bounced back Saturday defeating Lindenwood University-Belleville 347-178 at Pershing Natatorium.
The Bulldog men — ranked 21st — and women — ranked 7th — claimed every event except the men’s 1,650-yard freestyle. Assistant Coach and former Bulldog Jerod Simek says the team performed better than the last meet by virtue of their ability to execute the small yet crucial aspects of being a good swimmer.
“We really wanted to see the smaller details come together and we definitely saw that today,” Simek says.
Simek says he and the rest of the coaches stress the importance having better speed and power in and out of turns. He says Truman swimmers are told to work on their dolphin kicks and their underwater-to-breakout transitions off turns because they can easily be the difference between winning and losing.
Simek says the top performers on Saturday were junior Kortney Betz in the 1,650-yard freestyle, freshman Brenden Harris in the 100-yard backstroke, freshman Austin Mayer in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly and sophomore JT Thayer in the 200-yard butterfly. Betz beat the time she set at the GLVC meet last year while Harris was able to shave a tenth of a second off his personal best.
Simek says the team should be ready for the Northwestern TYR Invitational Nov. 18. The meet is not merely an exhibition but rather a place where the athletes can showcase their skills on a national scale. At that meet, the Bulldogs will compete against Div. I competition including the host Northwestern University, Grand Canyon University, Michigan State University and the United States Air Force Academy.
Simek says the team has been looking forward to the challenge this upcoming meet will provide them. He says they do not fear facing upper-level competition.
“They’re coming together as a team and really getting behind each other and being encouraging in practice,” Simek says.
Simek says he and the rest of the staff saw the impact of this mentality in last season’s success, and expect the “team first” atmosphere to play a huge role in how the team performs this year.
Last year, the women won the GLVC title for the first time in Truman history. Simek says the women should be able to defend their title while the men should be able to beat Lewis University — as they did at a meet earlier this year — and overtake Lewis University for 4th place at the conference meet. The Bulldogs hope to reach their goals this season by having fun and encouraging each other.
“It’s nice when a coach says ‘Hey nice job’ but when your fellow teammate says it, I think it means a little bit more sometimes,” Simek says.