Swimmers dive into new waters

Swim team prepares for another successful season and faces changes in leadership.

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Jehn Kubiak, Writer

Sports teams continue finishing up their seasons as the semester winds down, but athletes continue refining their techniques and look forward to the upcoming season. Along with these considerations, the swim team faces changes in leadership and team dynamics next year.

Head coach Eddie Shepard has accepted the Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations position and stepped down as Biola’s swim coach after leading the team for 13 years. A new coach has not been hired yet, but team members are excited to see how the group grows with the new coach.

The swimmers do not expect any difficulty adapting to a new coach since many of the team members have trained under different coaches and look forward to how this experience will change the team.

“I’m excited to see how our team grows with the new coach,” said sophomore Victoria Dunbar.

team’s strong bond

Dunbar also anticipates swimming with new and returning teammates next season and seeing how the new team will work together to reach their goals. Her success this season was highlighted by earning national qualifying times in the 100 and 200 freestyle.

“I’m excited to see how the dynamic changes and see how the team comes together to fight obstacles — it’ll be new, it’ll be exciting, and it’ll be a good experience for all of us,“ Dunbar said.

Sophomore Lisa Tixier believes the team’s strong bond will further contribute to a successful season next year. Tixier finished first in the 100 butterfly at the NAIA Championships.

“Our team is so close already that I feel like it would go well,” Tixier said.

team and personal goals

The swimmers have set team and personal goals for next semester, one of which is getting more members to compete at nationals after the tremendous success the team experienced this year.

“[I look forward to] getting as many people to qualify and then, once we get there, compete the best we can,” said sophomore Daniel Vale.

Vale desires to build off the knowledge he gained during the past couple years and keep improving his abilities as a swimmer. His 2016 season was highlighted by a 100 freestyle win in the Chapman University Meet on Dec. 5.

“I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned these past three seasons and hopefully put together an even better season,“ Vale said.

Losing these key members

A few members will not return to the team next season and the men’s team specifically may encounter difficulties since five members will graduate this year. Losing these key team members will additionally challenge members to compete in new events, especially relays.

“We need a lot of people to step up and it’s going to challenge everyone to grow as athletes and individuals,” Vale said.

Tixier said a smaller team will also allow older members to take on new leadership roles by serving as positive examples in practice, respecting other team members and the coach, working hard and representing Biola well.

Team members train individually to prepare for next season since there are no official practices during the offseason. Some members take a period of time to rest before jumping back in the water, but many team members are currently trying different activities, such as running or weight training, in conjunction with swimming to stay in shape over the summer.

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