After many remarkable performances last Fall, this Spring the Saint Leo Swimming teams will enter the most important period of their season. For both the Women and Men the upcoming term is crucial as the teams will have a chance to capture multiple championship titles.
Despite the performances of last Fall, the real challenge for both teams begins this Spring. Women, as well as Men, will take part in several championships races in which they will try to pursue victory.
Apparently, the athletes are on a good way to achieve their goals. After the races that the teams participated in during the Fall, at the beginning of last December, the CollegeSwimming.com Division II Team Rankings classified the Men as 6th and the Women as 20th in the nation.
Additionally, several swimmers achieved qualifying standards for the NCAA Division II championships that will take place in Indianapolis starting at the beginning of March. Nevertheless, the Sunshine State Conference Championships that start on the February, 18th will be just as important.
“The Main Goal or focus is the peak at the SSC and NCAA National Championships to elevate our overall Conference presence and improve our placing from last year for both the Men and Women Swimming programs,” said the Head Coach of Saint Leo Swimming, Paul Mangen.
The athletes already proven that they know how to peak at the right moment. Last year, the Lions presented their abilities at the SSC and the Nationals, placing several individuals on the podium and finishing the NCAA Division II championships as 13th on the Men’s side and 27th on the Women’s side.
It might be hard to estimate how the teams will perform this year. Nevertheless, the performances from the Fall might indicate the direction in which the Lions are going.
“It’s been a great group to coach, I know I speak for the entire coaching staff when I say it’s been very motivating and exciting to be able to work with these Student-Athletes as they’ve bought into the system I’ve presented. They’ve proven that hard work works,” said Mangen.
Of course, the Fall did not disclose all the unknowns, and the Spring still gives the Lions an opportunity to qualify for the national championships. According to Mangen, “we have set our sights on female relay(s) as well as some potential individual entries for both Men and Women. Right now we have two women and five males that are in the meet, and I believe we can add 2-3 more on each side.”
Last season the Lions sent eight swimmers to the nationals. Even though this season is just half-way finished, having seven athletes with the qualifying standards puts the Lions in a very good position. The early qualification for the national championships gives the team an opportunity to focus on practice. Since the swimmers do not have to worry about being eligible for the nationals, they can now set the meet as their priority and concentrate al their efforts on getting ready for the competition.
When asked if the coaching strategy is going to be different this Spring, Coach Mangen said “What we do won’t change, but how we do it may. As the athletes develop, we must adapt to the needs of perpetual improvement. We have more of an idea of which events each Student-Athlete will do at our Conference and NCAA championships so we will be even more [specifically fixated] on this, as that was previously a variable. But the process will stay the same, it works because we are always raising the bar and making adjustments as the program and individuals within the team develop.”
Although the teams already included many talented athletes, the roster might be slightly changed in the Spring. However, the changes will result in adding new players to the field rather than removing swimmers that are already on the team
“We will be adding several athletes to our line-up this semester that did not compete in the Fall, so this will aid greatly in depth as well as ability to score points and potentially win races.” said Mangen.
Even though the most important part of the season is the championships period, the Lions still have few meets of the regular season ahead of them. The meets will take place at Tampa, Rollins, and Florida Tech Universities, and all of them will be in January.
The members of the team have already made history breaking several school records as well as achieving remarkable results at the NCAA championships. Based on the previous performances and the successful Fall, it is not wrong to think that the upcoming Spring might be exciting for the Lions as well as their fans.
“I am enjoying the process of developing these Student-Athletes, and it has been very gratifying to see the growth of program through the collection of individuals that make up this team,” said Mangen.
If the athletes maintain the good attitude and focus on the future performances, the results might be as satisfactory as last year. Nevertheless, both the coaches and the athletes believe they can perform even better.
As the season continues, the Lions’ Pride Newspaper will continue coverage about the Lion’s swim team.