Gaining Momentum into Mid-Season

Gaining+Momentum+into+Mid-Season

EAST LANSING –After unexpected fast swims and a home victory, MSU swimmers and divers are finding their footing heading into the thick of the season.

“Usually this weekend we don’t race particularly well,” head coach Matt Gianiodis said. “So I was pretty encouraged. I thought the kids physically were still a little bit behind it, but I thought we raced good.”

Beginning and ending Friday night with relay wins, the men and women swept Bowling Green and Cincinnati. The women won the 400 free relay with a time of 3.27.73 and the 200 medley relay with 1:43.58. The small McCaffree Pool deck boomed with cheers as MSU fended off Cincinnati to win the 200 free relay with 1:31.51, clinching the win.

“This meet is what college swim is all about because it came down to the last relay,” Gianiodis said. “It’s kind of fun.”

Alec Kandt swam season highs in the 100 breast, with 56.50, and 200 breast, winning with 2:05.55. In the 100 free, sophomore Nick Leshok won with a season high of 46.18.

The women are on a three-meet win streak, while the men left Friday’s home meet with several season-best times.

Leading up to the Spartans’ home victory was the only full week of practice indoors. A fall heat wave allowed practice to continue in the Olympic pool until Nov. 4 — an advantage, according to senior Alec Kandt.

“Swimming outside long course is just beneficial for us ‘cause it allows us to get so much more practice,” Kandt said. “And then coming inside, it’s all about getting technical, getting down to mid-season.”

Things are looking good, but the Spartans’ true test is just around the corner. Gianiodis has brought up the Northwestern TYR Invitational just about every week leading up to now, and he’s relying on lifetime bests out of his swimmers.

This is a meet where then-seniors Shelby Lacey and Alison Menzies and current senior Alex Kandt stood out with impressive performances.

In 2014, Michigan State swept the top three scores on the first day of women’s 3-meter diving. Senior Alison Menzies won first with 307.15 points, senior Cristee Cordes came into second with 298.70 points, and sophomore Madeline Sewell took third with 277.30 points.

Now a junior, Sewell punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships in both diving events. She was also just recognized as Big Ten Diver of the Week. MSU hasn’t achieved that honor since last year, when then-senior Menzies was recognized.

The team has lost a significant senior class of fast swimmers and talented divers, and underclassmen have had to make up for it.

“Our women are way ahead of where they were a year ago. Men are getting there,” Gianiodis said. “Our freshman have accepted really tough challenges.”

The women’s team ended up in last place at the 2014 Big Ten Championships, and the men took tenth. Although last season boasted impressive swims from standout swimmers, this year seems to be different.

The Spartans are winless against Big Ten teams so far this season, losing to Purdue, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.

But team veterans are especially optimistic early in the season.

“For the team I only see positive things,” Kandt said. “I’m really excited for Big Tens and what this team can do.”