Show Me Showdown: A springboard for development for swimming and diving
The Bears finished near the middle of the pack at the Show Me Showdown at the University of Missouri on Friday. For a team consistently near the top of the rankings in Division III, not earning a podium finish would appear to be rare territory. However, against the high-level, multi-divisional competition, that finish is something to be proud of.
The Show Me Showdown is an annual event where swimming teams around the state of Missouri converge to compete against each other early in the season. All three divisions—Division I, II, and III—are present at the meet. Washington University was the sole Division III team present at the meet.
“For us, the benefit is that most of the teams that are there are some of the better Division I and Division II teams in the country, so we know the level is going to be really high for us and we’re very early in the season,” head coach Brad Shively said. “When we get to the end of the year, when we see a lot of the best swimmers in Division III, the truth is that we’ve already seen swimmers of that caliber very early in the season. It’s a nice opportunity to go out there and race athletes from different divisions and learn a lot about ourselves.”
The differences between the divisions were apparent. Division I and II start their seasons and conditioning earlier than Division III. That creates unique problems for the Bears in the competition.
“It is very early for us and the other schools that were there—being Division I and Division II schools—have been in the water longer than we have,” Shively said. “And so, from a conditioning standpoint, we’re not there.”
In addition to the competitive disparities between the teams, there is a mental element to the tournament. It gives the No. 4 men’s swimming team and No. 13 women’s swimming team a chance to test their mettle against tough competition. That is a welcome challenge to the Bears’ swimmers.
“Since there are DI and DII teams that are—in each of their divisions—very high up, it’s a challenge to step up and know that you will not perform as well as some of the people in your heat,” sophomore Barclay Dale said. “However, it’s a great opportunity to work on your mental capacity of swimming and work towards achieving something that you can do regardless of things that you can’t control, which are the speeds of others around you.”
At the same time, the competition provides an opportunity for the Bears to gauge themselves and access areas for potential growth.
“It gave us an opportunity to judge in a lot of ways some of the small, very important details of swimming against athletes that are really very good at those things.” Shively said. “Underwater kick-outs, turnstarts, the way we finish races. There were just a lot of things that allowed us to gauge, against some very strong swimmers, where we are. And now it’s back to work and working on some of those things, including working on our conditioning.”
While the gap between the Bears and some of their DI opponents was occasionally noticeable, the competition also served to inspire confidence amongst the Wash. U. competitors.
“One big take-away would probably be…reminding myself that I’m capable of racing anyone in any race,” freshman Maggie Teng said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re faster, slower, suited-up. Just go into the race ready for anything, and have fun with it.”
While there are clearly areas for improvement, Shively thought the performance was “overall, really strong.” The Red and Green’s fast finishes in their relays were highlights of the weekend.
“I thought we really stepped up in so many of our relays,” Shively said, “And that’s really a positive step that we take a lot of pride in.”
14 Bears were involved in top 10 finishes on the day. Senior Stephanie Li finished eighth in the 100-yard breaststroke. Senior Peyton Wilson finished ninth in the Backstroke. Dale finished 10th in the 100-yard butterfly. The other 11 Bears contributed to the Bears’ multiple top-10 relay times. The team of Li, junior Elle Pollitt, sophomore Grace Carey and freshman Noelle DiClemente completed the 200-meter Medley Relay in 1:48:34, good for sixth in the competition. The men also finished sixth in the Medley.
Both Wash. U. teams also finished fifth in the 200-meter freestyle. Senior Mollie Seidner, DiClemente, and freshmen Sandra Meszaros and Kayleigh Lewis posted a time of 1:39.44, while seniors Wilson, Preston Bailey, Jerry Chen and freshman Michael Kincheloe swam to a time of 1:25.15. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, Seidner, Carey, Pollitt and Meszaros finished sixth. Seniors Simon Deshusses and Chase Van Patten, Dale and Kincheloe finished eighth.