While Gambier was cold and dreary during winter break, the Owls traveled south to sunny Sarasota, Fla., for their annual training trip and an unscored meet with Illinois Wesleyan University. After returning to Ohio, swimming and diving competed in two different meets on Friday. Half of the team went to face a Division I opponent — the University of Cincinnati — where both men’s and women’s swimming and diving suffered their first loss of the season. The other half of the team was able to pick up wins in a double-dual meet against NCAC opponent Oberlin College and fellow Division III squad Ohio Northern University.
In Florida, the Owls were able to focus on training and team bonding heading into the upcoming championship season. The team had practices most days, and they were only a one-minute walk away from the beach, so they bonded near the ocean as well as eating ice cream and donuts together nearly every night. Ania Axas ’23 appreciated these simpler moments from her training trips at Kenyon. “It was a really fun environment to be in,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Cherantha De Silva ’23 and Ben Czech ’23 enjoyed being a part of a special tradition. Every year, the class and gender group with the highest GPA gets treated to ice cream by the coaches. This year, the seniors on the men’s swimming and diving team performed the best in the classroom. “Nothing better than a well-deserved reward,” De Silva wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Overall, the trip was a success. “I can say with confidence that we came out of Florida both as better swimmers and divers but, more importantly, more connected as a team,” Czech wrote in an email to the Collegian.
In Cincinnati, on the home team’s Senior Day, the Owls lost 170-130 (women) and 193-106 (men), respectively. The women’s swimming and diving team was able to pick up six wins, including five individual events. The men’s swimming and diving team was able to grab four events away from the Bearcats. De Silva played a part in both relays and touched the wall first in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly.
Despite the difference in NCAA Divisions, both Axas, who won the 200-yard butterfly, and De Silva feel that the distinction was not a big deal. “Whether it be racing a Division I school or a Division III school, it’s still swimming, and they’re all still athletes swimming the same events as us and working as hard as we do,” Axas said. “I really feel as though the division your team is in shouldn’t impact how you swim your race or how you plan to compete.”
Up north in Oberlin, Ohio, the Owls found more success, winning 181-88 (women) and 180-99 (men) against Oberlin. They also defeated Ohio Northern 194-61 (women) and 189-91 (men). Of the 14 events at the dual meet, the women’s swimming and diving team won all but one. The men were led by Czech, who won three individual events (200-yard individual medley, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard backstroke). “I was really happy with the races that I saw at the meet,” he said.
The Owls next compete Saturday against Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “We’ve all been working so hard over the past few months, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” said Axas. “This team is really special and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”