Small, But Mighty

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Boxer Swim Make Their First Splash of 2023

“I always splash myself with water right before my race; it’s a way for me to adapt to the water,” Madelyn Russell, a junior on the Pacific University Swim team, explained. “Pre-race rituals are really big for some swimmers,” said Russell. “I listen to the same music right before my race and do the same stretches and movements. As a team, we always do our team cheer and have ‘team time’ before the start of the meet to get excited and in the right mentality.” 

   Russell’s pre-race routine is nearly as detailed as her typical practice day. A regular practice day for a swim team member begins at 5:20 am. The team will practice from six to eight before the start of the day’s classes. After classes, this is followed by a lift or stretching session later in the day. Because practices take up so much time, the team spends the majority of their days together.

   The Boxer swim team is made up of a men’s and a women’s team; both coached by Beth Whittle. Because they practice in the same facility simultaneously, the two groups are closer than most women’s and men’s sports teams. The Boxer swim team demonstrates that chemistry is one of the most critical aspects of success by prioritizing support for one another.

   “The team atmosphere is very happy and family oriented,” Russell elaborates. “If you ever attend a meet, you will notice that we cheer and support our teammates more than other schools.”

   The Men’s Swim team is made up of four members, which means they do almost everything and every relay together. Connor Gates, a senior on the team, has been with the program for four years and says he has only seen growth in the team chemistry since he first joined. 

   “As you get to know our team as a whole, we are more than just a number. We are a family,” explained Gates. “A family can have its ups and downs, but they work together regardless of the circumstances. I have seen a crazy amount of growth this year in just understanding each other better about what can affect us and how we can contribute to the growth and prosperity of our teammates. I think our coach [Beth Whittle] embodies that as well.” 

   It is a bit past the halfway point of the swim season, and the women’s team has started strong. The Boxers outright won the meet against Willamette University and placed third at the George Fox Invitational. Josh Joireman (senior) can be seen on the Northwest Conference leaderboard for his 49.36 personal records (pr) in the 100-yard freestyle and his 53.39 pr in the 100-yard fly. Anne Marie Grieder-Jacobs (sophomore) of the Women’s team also has her name up on the leaderboard quite a few times. Grieder-Jacobs has swam a 26.03 in the 50 yard freestyle, a 29.99 in the 50 yard backstroke and a 2:13.52 in the 200 yard backstroke, she has made quite her mark. 

   While also competing well, Gates recalls that these athletes have much to do with team harmony, “Grieder-Jacobs is one of the many returners this year that have helped all of the new faces get acclimated to our team environment.”

   The Boxers will compete in four more meets to end the season. While building on the energy they have created, they look to be strong competitors for the remainder of the Northwest Conference competition. With the men’s team being small in numbers and the women’s team being predominantly lower-classmen, this season has created something for these athletes to prove. 

   “This season we can look forward to seeing more relays placing at conference and more stand-out individual performances,” stated Madelyn Russell. 

   With so many relays in swimming, team support is essential. This Boxer team has made support priority, and the athletes are proud to share that. Gates demonstrates his compassion for his teammates not only through his words, but also through his actions.

   “The best part of meet days for me is being able to support my teammates through their races,” said Gates. “That warms my heart more than anything I could ever do in the water.”

   The Boxer swim team will make their first splash of 2023 on January 13 at Pacific Lutheran before returning home to swim at the Forest Grove Aquatic Center on January 20, 21, and 28. — Avari Schumacher

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