Swimmers and Divers Defeat Baldwin Wallace
by Liz Logan

Oberlin’s swim team began the season with three losses and a win — two losses for the women’s team, and one win and one loss for the men’s. The first meet of the season was held on the home turf of national champions Denison on Nov. 3. The men’s team lost 88 to 138, and the women’s team lost 82 to 139.
“We knew we probably weren’t going to beat the national champions. They only used half their team to beat us up, and sent the other half to Ohio Wesleyan to beat them up. We went in tired, and there weren’t a lot of positive things that happened,” Coach Dick Michaels said.
For the women at Denison, all-American senior co-captain Celeste Mercer stood out with a win in the 50 free and a close second place finish in the 100 backstroke.
The men failed to win any events against Denison, but had some close times which displayed the team’s improvement. “[Sophomore Burt] Betchart did well in the backstroke and the 200 free, getting good times for himself,” Michaels said. “First-year [Ben] Pierce did well in the 200 [free] and 500 [free].” Pierce came in second in the 500 free, an event he’s “still learning how to swim,” according to Michaels. “[Sophomore Joel] Ketner swam his best time of the year to date in the backstroke,” Michaels also recounted. “He has been out of the water for two years, but he’s coming on really strong right now.”
Though the women lost 114 to 125, the Baldwin Wallace meet on Nov. 7 was full of successes. Said Michaels, “The Baldwin-Wallace meet was a lot more fun. We knew it would be close — it always is.” Mercer was a triple winner in the 50 free, the 100 fly and the 100 backstroke. This was particularly remarkable for Mercer considering there was only one event in between the 100 fly and 100 back during which she could recover.

“There were so many positive things that happened,” Michaels said. “[First year Kim] Davis had her two best times of the year. [Sophomore Adrienne] Zoller had her lifetime best in breast stroke right after finishing volleyball season. [Sophomore Meagan] Dunphy-Daly also had lifetime best. It was amazing for so many swimmers to swim their lifetime best times all in one meet.”
Other players who turned in exceptional performances were sophomore Julia Irwin, who helped the relay teams earn second place in the 200 freestyle relay and third place in the 200 medley relay. Sophomore Nicole Middaugh was also a member of the relay team that earned second place as well as the winner of the 200 individual medley. “We lost the meet by eleven points but we won the swimming match,” Michaels said. “Our divers are beginners, so they don’t do the high board and that lost us the meet.”
The men’s team defeated Baldwin Wallace 127 to 96 with many impressive performances. “First-year Ben Pierce dropped his time in the 200 free to win that event,” Michaels said. Pierce was a triple winner, coming in first in the 500 free, the 200 freestyle relay and the 200 free. “He took ten seconds off his lifetime best [to win] the 500 free,” Michaels said. Ketner also dropped his time to win the IM. Ketner was also a triple winner, claiming first place in the 200 medley relay, the 100 breast, as well as the 200 IM. Also on the winning 200 medley team was Burt Betchart, a triple winner for the 100 free and the 50 free.
Despite their success at Baldwin Wallace, the men’s team has many challenges to overcome this season. Said Michaels, “The men’s team is too small — there are only 14 guys. It’s bigger than last year, though, when we went to the championship with only 10 guys. This is a malady in Division III swimming — liberal arts colleges have trouble getting men to swim for them. We have gained six guys this year, and five graduated, which is not too bad.”

According to Michaels, there are waning numbers of male swimmers not just for Oberlin, but for many other colleges in the NCAC.

The women’s team, stronger in numbers, seems to have more potential. Said Michaels, “The NCAC is the best division three swimming in the country, so some of our swimmers have had national cut times but can’t even place in the conference’s top eight. This year’s senior class is particularly strong so we have quite a bit of talent — but so does every team in our league.”

With so many huge hurtles before them, Oberlin’s swimmers can only look forward to a season of hard work. Said Michaels, “Swimming is all about individual improvement — it’s not subjective, it doesn’t matter who you are playing. [The sport] is very cut and dried, very objective — it’s all about times. When we’re improving, even if we still lose, its satisfying.”

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