Storm swim team ends season at Liberal Arts Championships


(Photo: Maddy Hermon/The Simpsonian)

by Matt Lash, Sports Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Swimming, unlike most sports, is an individual battle. Yes, there are winners and losers, but head coach Tom Caccia sees it a different way.

“Swimming is much more individual,” Caccia said. “Individual efforts equal the team results. When everybody does their job, it’ll be part of a winning effort.”

Coming up on the end of the season, the team is looking towards the Liberal Arts Championships, which are hosted by Luther in Decorah on Feb. 14-17 and will determine if any swimmers qualified for the national championship meet in late March in Indianapolis.

“The Liberal Arts Championships is a meet whereby several schools that are not associated with a conference can have a chance to swim a championship level meet and have the experience of a meet to focus upon to swim their best times,” Caccia said.

Because the swimming program is small at Simpson, and in the IIAC overall, there isn’t an official conference championship meet. This meet is a chance for Caccia his team to swim against the IIAC schools with swim programs and other schools in the Midwest who are competing for national championship spots.

“The IIAC requires six teams to have a conference championship in any sport. Swimming and Diving has five, and all five of the IIAC teams are involved in this meet,” Caccia said.

In addition to the schools in the IIAC, the Storm will face opponents from schools in Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and California.

Going into the biggest meet of the season, the Storm will look to utilize their personnel in events that they are more likely to compete in, just like they have been doing all season.

“The season plan is usually developed around our personnel, rather than our past performances,” Caccia said. “There are basic things that are involved in each season, but we let who we have guide the progress of each season.”

Megan Buitendorp, a senior sprinter, will compete in her fourth and final Liberal Arts Championship, and knows her teammates are always behind each other.

“You never swim alone, this meet has very high energy,” Buitendorp said. “Teammates are at the end of the lane cheering you on and gives you motivation to keep going.”

Although they are an inexperienced team, mostly because the team lost a large group of seniors, the Storm are hungry to compete at a high level to end a season that has shown improvement across the board.

“With only three sophomore men, our upperclassmen leadership has had to come for the women’s side,” Caccia said. “It has been a big responsibility for them to lead the entire team.”

As an inexperienced team, every swimmer is expected to compete and prepare for meets to the best of their ability. Mentality is a huge part of that preparation.

“We are going into this meet with some very mentally tough swimmers who have been through a lot together and I think they have a much better sense of teamwork”, Caccia said.

Entering the last meet of the season, the Storm have maintained their goals and expectations throughout the season.

“Our primary goal is always based on swimming as fast as we can go,” Caccia said. “To expect any wins is unrealistic and, in my opinion, puts a lot of pressure on an athlete. We want to have every swimmer and diver reach their potential for this meet.”
Buitendorp has been here before, but she also knows it takes a special effort to make it to the finals.

“Liberal Arts is what you strive for during the year,” Buitendorp said. “It all comes down to this one meet, it is different from the others because it is a prelim and final meet for three days. You have to qualify in the morning to swim at finals only the top 16 get to come back at night to place. “