Swimming adjusting after first meets

The Truman State University men’s and women’s swimming teams lost to Lindenwood University Saturday, Oct. 14 after starting the season with wins against University of Missouri-St. Louis and Maryville University.

Despite winning five of 11 events, the women came up 6 points short of Lindenwood’s 105. Interim head coach Jerod Simek said it was disappointing to be so close and still fall short at the meet, but the races were a reflection of the work the team has put into its aerobic base training. He said the next phase of training is in full swing, which will focus on front-end speed before the midseason taper meet at Northwestern University.

After former head coach Ed Pretre’s departure, Simek said though the team will be a coach short, he is confident in this team’s leadership. Simek is also a graduate of Truman and said when he swam here, the team was going through an almost identical situation. Being on the other side of a late-notice coaching change, he said his own experience will help him through this time, with the team and individual goals still within reach.

Senior Libby Opfer said it’s a confidence booster, though disappointing, to know the Bulldogs’ performance measured up to a team ranked ahead of them in preseason standings. Opfer said this early season loss is a motivator more than anything — a reminder they work hard every day so it won’t happen again.

“This year, with not having named a head coach, it has made the team even closer than usual,” Opfer said, “Everyone has really stepped up their game. I’m confident that we’ll have that energy continue through the season and will be able to hold up our rankings.”

Div. II CSCAA/TYR preseason rankings were released Oct. 16 with the women ranked No. 8 in the nation while the men were unranked. Despite the thrill of a top 10 ranking, the Bulldogs are not without competition as one of three GLVC teams ranked in the top 25 — Drury at No. 1 and Indianapolis at No. 16.

The women added five freshmen to the team, and the men added seven newcomers in the offseason.

“All of the freshmen that we have brought in, I believe, can make an impact on our team come the conference championships,” Simek said. “Some have had great practices, and others have performed very well. I think this group will help the team replace what we lost in last year’s graduating class, as well as fill the holes that the team had within breaststroke on the women’s side.”

Simek said the goal for the women this season is to be top 10 when it’s all said and done. He said they are on pace to achieve this goal.

Senior Jasmine Roghair said the freshmen are adding more depth to the team which will help later during bigger meets. Roghair said everyone is using the first few competitions to settle back into racing. Because many swimmers on the team haven’t raced since the conference meet last February, Roghair said there is an adjustment period of figuring out the race pace and strategies. Roghair said the team hopes to have these skills down by its midseason meet at Northwestern.

“It’s a good opportunity to gauge where the team is at early on in the season,” Roghair said. “It’s also a great time for the freshmen to learn and see what this team and college swimming are all about.”

The Bulldogs will compete at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at William Jewell College. This will be the Bulldogs’ fourth matchup against a conference rival.