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Luther College Chips

Luther Swimming & Diving takes on the Liberal Arts Championship

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Mimi Finger (‘19) sees the results after finishing a race.

Mimi Finger (‘19) sees the results after finishing a race.

Photo Courtesy of Mimi Finger (‘19)

Photo Courtesy of Mimi Finger (‘19)

Mimi Finger (‘19) sees the results after finishing a race.

Julia Curtis, Staff Writer

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The Luther Men’s and Women’s Swim and Dive teams competed at the Liberal Arts Championship (LAC) in Elsah, IL, on Feb. 8-11. In total, the conference held 13 individual events, five relays, and two diving events. Each swimmer could swim up to three individual events and four relays. Luther swimmers competed in the full NCAA lineup, and Luther divers competed their full 11-dive list. The Liberal Arts Championship included schools from the upper Midwest, Indiana, and California.

The women’s team finished second out of 11 teams due to the efforts of many top finishers. Megan Broadbent (‘18) finished second in both the 1m and 3m dives with scores of 382.85 and 393.05 respectively. The 200m freestyle relay including Sam Kraft (‘18), Alix Sharp (‘20), Jackie Hughes (‘17), and Emily Anderson (‘17) finished third with a time of 1:41.86. Anderson also placed second in the 50m freestyle with a time of 24.77 and placed third in the 100m butterfly with a time of 59.27. Kraft additionally placed second in the 1650m freestyle with a time of 17:37.44, breaking the school record.

The men’s team placed fourth out of nine teams. Matt Staver (‘20) placed third in the finals for the 400m Individual Medley with a time of 4:14.56. Staver also finished in second place in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 16:20.54, which is the second fastest time in school history. Reid Snell (‘20) also placed 3rd in the 100m breaststroke with a time of 59.86.

This was the first LAC under new Head Swim and Dive Coach Nicole Kaupp.

“This is the first time I’ve been to the Liberal Arts Championships, but a conference meet is a staple of any collegiate season,” Kaupp said. “So while it’s a new conference and a new team for me, since this is my first year at Luther, the goal is still the same: to perform at your peak when it matters.” 

With a new head coach and a new training program, Anderson reflected on the new style leading up to the championships.

“[Kaupp] breaks up her practices a lot more so we have a lot more intense morning practices and our lifting has been different,” Anderson said. “We are really prepared to be able to place well.”

Before the competition, Anderson also reflected on what the championships meant to her as a senior.

“I am ready to see how I swim, but it’s sad,” Anderson said. “I’ve been swimming for so long and this is it. I wouldn’t want my last meet to be with anyone else except the Luther swim team. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without the past alumni and the current team.”

Gunnar Swanson (‘17) swam all four years at Luther, and said that one of his favorite parts of the competition was the camaraderie formed between different teams.

“It is always fun to race against the teams we have swam against in the past and see how we compare year to year,” Swanson said. “Additionally, you do end up forming friendly rivalries with members of other teams.”

Swanson placed eighth in the 200m butterfly race.

These friendships form over time because of the unique nature of swimming competitions, according to Kaupp.

“The great thing about swimming, opposed to basketball or some of the team sports where you have to directly compete against those teams to determine your conference championships or conference standings, in swimming we don’t have to,” said Kaupp. “We don’t have to have the year or in-season competition against them because times are what matters, it’s not about wins or losses.”

Swanson finds the LAC special because of the opportunity.

“If I had to pick a favorite aspect, it would be seeing the faces of the first- years when they get best times. The look of shock and pure joy is contagious and I can’t help but smile when I see that,” Swanson said.

The next event for the teams is the NCAA III National Swimming and Diving Championships on March 15-18.

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