Just keep swimming

DYLAN FOREMAN; Sports Editor: foremadf@plu.edu

The women’s swimming team at Pacific Lutheran University is arguably the winningest team at PLU over the last few years, recently claiming a second place finish at the NWC Championship meet.

At PLU, one team has dominated the Northwest Conference for the last four years, yet people probably haven’t even heard about their success or the amount of work they have put in during the season.

As is clear if one has ever swam for an extended period of time, it really is no easy task and requires exceptional conditioning, a seemingly unreal work ethic and hours upon hours of dedicated time in the pool and the weight room.

So why does the swim team do what they do? Campus-wide recognition? No, it’s because they pride themselves on being a nation-wide powerhouse and quite simply, they love what they do.

It is paramount the swim team love what they do since their season can last several months depending on which swimmers qualify for the NCAA Championships. They begin in September with early morning workouts followed by swim practice — all before any other PLU student or student-athlete is even awake. In the weight room, they can be seen doing power lifts for every major muscle group and it shows. However, it doesn’t get any easier once they head to the pool.

Then the real conditioning begins as both the men and women’s team do lap after lap in the water.

First year swimmer Danielle Booth, who also earned a qualifying time for the NCAA B Pool in the 100-yard breaststroke, attested to the fact that the life of a swimmer isn’t an easy one.

“There are going to be some nights where maybe you only get two hours of sleep, and then you have to go workout for two hours that morning, and then you have another two hour workout in the afternoon,” Booth explained. “But [it is] definitely worth it in the end.”

PLU alumna Melissa Dean, a former swimming captain and 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Award nominee, recalls the arduous process of competing on the swim team at PLU.

“It was a long schedule, but having your teammates next to you pushing yourself made it enjoyable and worth it,” Dean said. “While you were usually just trying to make it through practice yourself, it was everyone’s job to keep each other accountable to keep pushing and getting stronger and faster.”

Both Dean and Booth attribute their individual and team successes not only to their team, but to their coach Matt Sellman, who they say is a strong proponent of why the swim program has been as successful as it has been.

From 2014-2016, Sellman has led the Lutes to first place finishes in the conference tournament and has earned himself Coach of the Year honors in each of those three years.

“Coach Sellman [is] one of the key components keeping the athletes trained and constantly in the right mindset to push ourselves in the pool every day,” Dean said. “He has done an amazing job with the swim program and I am so thankful for having him as a coach for the past four years.”

For those who have been or are currently swimming for PLU, what makes them dominant is their ability to push each other to their full potential. Booth explained that “our mindset is always work hard because that’s what is going to make us go fast at the end of the season.” 🅼

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