Being the best brings success — there’s no denying this notion. Goals can motivate people to achieve the best possible results, and working as a team, rather than as individuals, leads to victory.
The swim team at Pacific Lutheran University knows about success and knows what it takes to reach the summit in collegiate athletics.
Last season helped improve the Lutes’ reputation as a strong swimming team. The team broke 17 records last year in both individual and relay events.
Last season was arguably one of the most successful seasons in Lutes’ swimming history, but the team is focused on maintaining their level of success and building off of that.
Even though the Lutes did break several records last year, they couldn’t beat Whitworth at the Northwest Conference championships. Whitworth won the NWC last year in both the men’s and women’s categories.
In 2011, the Whitworth men took top honors at the end of the season. The Pirates of Whitworth have capsized every other team in the NWC for the past few years.
While Whitworth will look to repeat as conference champions this year, the Lutes will be targeting the Spokane-based swashbucklers.
“This year, we could come close but I don’t think we can beat them [Whitworth], because they are very, very good,” freestyler Brian Ruggles, a sophomore, said.
Many teams focus on the results and hardware. For instance, teams might concentrate on how fast their top breaststroker is or how quickly their 400-freestyle relay team can swim. The Lutes are not concerned about the end result, but more on the journey of getting there.
“We know that if we work hard and stay focused on enjoying the process, we will achieve our goals at the end, but that process is the most important thing,” head coach Matt Sellman said. “We expect to be a very competitive team in the [Northwest] Conference and challenge for the right to stand on top of the podium at the end of the season.”
Building a strong team can be difficult, but with the correct ingredients, anything can be possible. Sellman managed to recruit 15 first-year swimmers. They are living up to the hype as the Lutes prepare to finally conquer the Whitworth Pirates.
“Our rookies are incredible. They have made a very smooth transition to college swimming, and we expect them all to make excellent and significant contributions to the team right away,” Sellman said.
Sellman said the first-years are demonstrating work ethic and a positive attitude that melds well with the team. “I look forward to seeing them help move the team into the upper echelons of the conference and keep us there for a long time,” Sellman said.
In addition to gaining new talent, successful teams also benefit from good team chemistry. The team has dinner almost every night during the season and also partake in movie nights during the week, according to Ruggles.
“You want to be in a family [setting] where you support each other so that everyone can train their best so they can compete at their best,” junior Michelle Hogan said.
Sellman even hosts a Christmas party for the swim team at his house in December.
“The team has an enthusiastic and fun personality, but isn’t shy when it comes to putting their nose to the grindstone,” Sellman said. “They work very hard together and then have a good time off deck as a family. I see them supporting each other every day, pushing themselves and their teammates to be their best. When that happens as often as it does in our water, on our pool deck, great things happen.”
The year, the Lutes will battle it out for conference supremacy against Whitworth. The Pirates have added five first-years to help bulk up their deep roster.
The team cruises into conference play this afternoon when the Lutes travel to Lewis & Clark. The Lutes swim team won’t play Whitworth until Jan. 18, so PLU will have to wait to find out who will rule the waters until then.