The women’s swim team came in last place at the Grinnell Invitational but remains determined to build a successful program despite the challenges this season.
The team has lost 12 of the 13 competitions this season to date due to having only five current swimmers on the team. Junior Catherine Mayes accepts that things will be difficult for the team for the time being and is focusing on personal gains.
“This team has had to face many challenges [including] a lot of illness and injuries,” Mayes said. “We need to be pumped up and not discouraged about our small numbers and just go out there and swim against our times. There is always room for personal improvement as long as we stay positive and race against the clock to get personal best times.”
Head swimming coach Aaron Strain is in his third season at Simpson and has big plans for expansion in the future.
“We do have a recruiting plan in place and are executing that plan,” Strain said. “I have enlisted the help of several individuals to help with those efforts with the goal of increasing our squad size to over 25 by fall.”
This increase in numbers will be complemented by a needed upgraded to Simpson’s facilities. The current facility is far too old, small and does not meet regulation standards for competition as it stands.
“The proposed Indianola Wellness Facility, if passed, will be the new home of Simpson swimming once completed,” Strain said. “This venue would put our competition pool ahead of everyone else in our conference. I am not sure what other sports on campus can say that. This project is headed to a vote on March 1, and I would encourage anyone who is from Indianola to be sure and register and vote yes for this project.”
Until these upgrades to the team and facilities are finalized, the team will continue to focus on growing individually and strengthening ties to each other.
Freshman Erin Gerken understands how having five swimmers forces intense concentration whenever the team competes.
“With only five people, we all need to be focused and on top of our game,” Gerken said. “I think it definitely helps us grow as a team because we all have to rely on each other.”
The team is currently focusing on setting reasonable goals for itself in order to constantly improve in the areas it is most equipped to handle with so few swimmers.
“The girls were awesome this weekend,” Strain said. “After the first day we picked out a similar-sized team and made it our goal to beat them. We came up short, but the task was much less daunting, and it made our swims count for something. We are ahead of last year’s numbers, and we are working every day to increase [them].”
Strain has also been exploring different schools’ methods of program-building and figuring out what would best help Simpson’s situation.
“All of our conference schools are great, and I have spoken with all of the coaches at one time or another about different aspects of building a program,” Strain said. “All of the conferences have been extremely supportive.”
The last competition of the season is the Liberal Arts Championship at Coe College on Thursday, Feb. 17.