By MELISSA TORRE
The Spartans kicked off their season with wins for both the men and women swim teams in their home opener against Sunshine State Conference (SSC) rival Florida Southern Friday Oct. 14.
UT finished with a final score of 118-87 for the women and 123-82 for the men. Picking up the wins for both men and women is not only a great start to the season, but beating Florida Southern was one of the team’s goals going into the season, according to men’s head coach Jimi Kiner.
“For the team it’s a good starting point for us to see where we are and then build on it from there,” Kiner said. “And like I said, we [men’s] haven’t beaten Florida Southern in four or five years so it’s a really good way to kick off the season.”
During the meet, the team showed their unity for both the men and the women in and out of the pool. They cheered for fellow teammates throughout the entire meet, the incoming freshmen class stepped up when needed and they used the techniques they have been working on in practice.
“It’s going really well, we’re winning both the guys and the girls, so it’s going way better than we thought and it’s all about winning,” said senior butterfly swimmer Nelly Hansson.
Some of the top performances for the women’s team included junior freestyle swimmer Brittany Bayes who won the 1000 Free with a time of 10:47.20. Bayes finished nearly five seconds faster than second place Spartan sophomore distance Freestyler Ali Lombardi. Other top performances from the women included senior Marisa Barton who had first-place finishes in both the 50 Free,with a time of 24.59, and the 100 Free, with a time of 52.92.
The men’s team won seven of the 11 events, including the freestyle relay– which included Matrin Hammer, Stefano Vrolijk, Aaron James, and Bryan Mattingly. This marked their first win against Florida Southern since the 2011-2012 season. Some of their top performers included senior Martin Hammer, who won two individual events. Also, distance swimmers junior Tommy Reminder and freshman Tomas Manso-Fraga picked up wins in the 1000 and 500 Free events.
The team is currently in the midst of changing the intensity levels and shifting towards their general phase of training. During the beginning of the semester, the team focused on regrouping after summer break — including working aerobic freestyle and on the individual medley (IM). These skills helped bring a base to start training for the season, and now the team is beginning to undergo more intense training as they approach the most crucial part of the season.
“We’ve just been basically working really hard on long distance swim and working on our walls [flipturns] and technique stuff,” Hansson said. “Just getting everyone back in the water after the summer, because we practice a lot during the summer but not as much as we do here. So it’s really just a lot about getting us back in the water and getting into shape.”
The team brought in a tough class of freshmen this season, according to Kiner, including Aubrey Hillborn for the women and Brett Saunders for the men. Having a good group of young swimmers this season has really helped the team put points on the board for the Spartans.
“Sometimes it takes freshmen a little bit longer to develop,” Kiner said. “So it’s nice that we’re bringing in a really good core that are already contributing. So that means in the future we’ll just keep building and building for years to come.”
Moving forward in the season, the team hopes to pick up wins against Nova Southeastern University and Keiser University, but according to Kiner the real goal the team strives for every year is Academic All American.
“That’s what we want to do men and women side [achieve Academic All American],” Kiner said. “We gotta get our education so we can go be successful after the swimming world is done.”
Melissa Torre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org