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Swimming and diving strives for first SBC title
Dave Carson / Staff Writer
The Mean Green swimming and diving team held its last intense practice on Monday afternoon in final preparation for the Sun Belt Conference championship, which will be held in Rockwall from Feb. 27 to March 2.
In the last three years UNT has finished in third place at the SBC, but with the absence of defending champion University of Denver, the Mean Green hopes that it has made the strides to win this meet and become champions in its final year in the conference. The competition for this meet will be eight-time champion Western Kentucky University, two-time champion Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
“I have run the numbers for this meet several times and I have us winning this meet the majority of the time,” head coach Joe Dykstra said. “This is the meet that we want to give our best in and we are capable of winning this weekend.”
The Mean Green is coming off one of its toughest regular seasons, as the team swam against schools, like No. 2 Texas A&M University and No. 24 Southern Methodist university, that are predicted to contend for their respective conferences.
“We have swam against some highly talented swimmers in dual meets, and we should have no fear this weekend,” senior distance swimmer Catia Weickgenant said. “The team is tired and that is how we are supposed to feel, and we want to win a team championship.”
For the diving portion, the Mean Green has the opportunity to take the top three spots depending on the day’s performances. The team has three divers – senior Delia Covo, junior Rebecca Taylor and junior Catherine Johnson – that have qualified for the NCAA zone competition. In the previous two years, Johnson has taken second place in the 1-meter and 3-meter in the SBC conference.
“I am feeling good about this year,” Johnson said. “I know what it takes to win this event and know I have to just execute my dives.”
In this meet the athletes will be wearing their “fast suits,” which are Olympic-style swimsuits. The suits have a retail value from ranging $350-600, and depending on the condition of the suit, and is only good for two or three races. The suits are water resistant, and reduce the drag by allowing the swimmers to feel that they are actually higher in the water.
Each day of the tournament begins at 11 a.m. and the diving portion will take place on Thursday and Friday.
If the Mean Green is able to produce fast individual times, the NCAA could invite those athletes to the NCAA Championship meet, which will take place March 21-23 in Indianapolis, Ind.