Women’s swimming and diving races into first place

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A Mountain West title tends to be the ultimate goal of athletic programs here at Boise State. The championship is an end-of-season test that measures hard work, dedication and athleticism, and its results tend to produce excitement (and a trophy). From Feb. 14 to Feb. 17 in San Antonio, Texas, the women’s swimming and diving team passed that test with flying colors, earning the 2018 title.

With a total of 1,250 points, Boise State, quite literally, blew the competition out of the water. Their next closest competitor was San Diego State, who came away from the meet with 1,105.5 points. The University of Nevada, Reno: 1,033.5; University of Wyoming: 981;  Colorado State University: 709; University of New Mexico: 673.5; Fresno State: 644; University of Nevada, Las Vegas: 624.5; Air Force Academy: 572; San Jose State: 571. In 2017, the Broncos won with 1,390 points, once again beating out San Diego State for first place.

“When I’m on the block, there’s nothing that bothers me, and I can’t even hear people yelling,” said junior nursing major Abbey Sorensen. “Right before I dive in, everything quiets, and I focus and zone in on me.”

In the last eight years, Boise State has not placed lower than second place and has earned five conference titles. At the 2017 championships, Emma Chard won the 200-yard freestyle (as well as in 2016), and Ally Kleinsorgen won the 100-yard backstroke. The team also won all five relays, proving their dominance in the water.

Going into this year’s meet, the team aimed to continue that tradition of excellence. First-place victories came from Sorensen (200-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle), senior Emma Chard (500-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle), the 400-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay.

“The 400 medley relay was really memorable for me,” Sorensen said. “That was a big pivoting moment for everyone because it was one where we were head to head with everyone for the entire race. I was on the anchor leg, and we won by a few one hundredths of a second; it was really exciting.”

Many other significant events contributed to the team’s overall score. Junior Cody Evans took second in the 100 freestyle, Chard and freshman Lucia Davis placed third and sixth in the 1,650 freestyle and senior Emily Mathis and junior Laura Williams placed fifth and seventh in the 200 breaststroke, respectively. On the diving board, senior Cassidy Bose scored 211.62 to claim sixth place overall.

“(Winning the championships) is such a feeling of pride; all of the tears and laughs all year accumulated into that one moment, and it made everything worth it,” Sorensen said. “You forget all of the hard times in the season; that feeling is one that is unlike any other.”

Throughout the meet, the swimmers and divers had to work hard to earn as many points as possible. According to Sorensen, by the last day the team knew that the score was close and that every race counted.

“(The championship) was very exciting; early on we were behind by a lot, and we did a great job of really stepping up,” said head coach Jeremy Kipp. “It means we are a good team. We accomplished what we set out to do, and for the athletes it really validates all of their hard work and sacrifices.”

The relatively young team, which included eleven freshmen, spent the season working hard, both in the water and the weight room. Chard explained that she could see the team maturing throughout the season. According to Kipp, the freshmen earned 195 points, and the sophomores earned 172 at the championships.

“Our team has unlimited and endless potential, which is something that is hard to find and really cool to be a part of,” Sorensen said.

For the three seniors on the team-Chard, Monica Bottelberghe and Mathis-the victory was bittersweet. As her Bronco career came to a close, Chard reflected on the hard work that has gone into the last four years.

“After losing my freshman and sophomore years, the team did what we could to win, and we were all really dedicated,” said senior environmental studies major Chard. “It has shown me how much dedication it takes to succeed, and it’s helped me as a person.”

Coach Kipp, who was hired in 2015 and has since been named Mountain West Coach of the Year twice (2016 and 2017), expressed his pride and gratitude for the seniors.

“I was really proud of them; they did a tremendous job,” Kipp said. “For them to come back and win back-to-back champs, which I don’t think any of the other classes have done in the Mountain West, it was pretty cool, and I was really happy for them.”

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