To all UNI Panthers and Fans,
Welcome to the 2010-2011 UNI Women's Swimming and Diving Team! This year we will be starting something new, The Pantherette Diaries! This will be our team's personal journal, each member of the team will be designated a week for an entry where you will get to see what it is like to be in their shoes and be a member of this awesome team J We will also be adding stories from the week and posting pictures of the various activities we do to highlight our season. So get ready to read about some crazy weeks of laughter, practices, bus trips, and success. ENJOY! Go Panthers!
Kelly Rose and Chelsea
UNI Women's Swim Team Co-Captains
Hi my name is Kelly Rose McCullough and I am a senior and co-captain on the UNI Swim and Dive team. I am from Spencer, Iowa and I swim distance freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, and IM.
Our season began back in August and after six grueling months of working hard and pushing ourselves to new limits, nothing was going to stop us from reaching for our goals once we reached the MVC Conference Championship in February. Each day, whether we were in the pool or in the weight room, we put in 100 percent effort and left nothing behind. We made sure to not only push ourselves, but to push our teammates as well. Even though we experienced some ups and downs as a team, we always came together as one in times of great need like during Christmas training, on Senior Night, and at the MVC Conference Championship. We bonded as a team and used each other as we reached our goals at the end of the season. We pushed through all the pain, upsets, and disappointments of the past to achieve the goals we had written within the first couple weeks of practice.
On Saturday we concluded our season at the end of the year banquet. All my teammates and their parents gathered for a luncheon followed by awards and a recap of the season. It was a huge success and congratulations to all of you that received awards. Kathleen Varner was named Most Improved, Bethany Olson and Stephanie Frederick were named MVP, Jaime Pearson and Caryn Knight received the Newcomers of the Year Award, and Chelsea Hartman and myself received the Panther Award. Being able to share this award with Chelsea was very exciting and I am so glad that I had the pleasure to work with her as co-captains this year. Chelsea will get to continue being a captain next year along with Stephanie Frederick and Jody Peterson. Each and every member on my team was a winner, because without each other we would not have been able to have as much success and achieve as much as we did!
As I think back at my own personal swimming career, I can take from it many great memories, great friends, and great lessons learned. Swimming has taught me many things in life and has given me many opportunities that others will never have the chance to experience. But the most important thing swimming ever taught me was to BELIEVE. Not only in myself, but in my teammates and those who support me as well. By believing in swimming, I was able to accomplish almost anything I set my mind to. If there is one lesson I can pass down to others, it is to believe. If you believe in yourself, then anything is possible. If you believe you can, then it can be done. And if you believe you deserve it, then fight for it because you will achieve success. For as long as I can remember I was inspired by this Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. So keep believing as your reach for your goals!
The last thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you to all my teammates, the parents, the athletic department, our strength training coaches, and to Coach Stacey and Coach Lori, because without all of you and without your constant support and your push to better our team, we would not have accomplished all the goals we had set out to achieve. So thank you and please keep supporting the UNI Swim and Dive team over the years because they deserve it! Good luck to my senior classmates, April Mangrich, Ashley Mangrich, Josie Izten, and Tori Ward! I know you are all going to do amazing things in life and I am so proud of everything you have already accomplished.
Putting an end to my swimming career will be hard and it will take time to adjust. However, a good friend told me a quote by Dr. Seuss saying, “Do not cry because it is over. Smile because it happened”. I have acquired many great memories and have achieved many goals, so I need to remember all the good times and good lessons as I begin the next chapter in my life.
Hi! My name is Chelsea Hartman, I am a Junior distance swimmer from North Liberty, Iowa and co-captain of the UNI Women’s Swimming and Diving Team. This past weekend the UNI Swimming and Diving team competed in the MVC Swimming and Diving Conference Meet in Carbondale, Illinois. We left on Tuesday for Southern Illinois, all with goals that had been set way back in August. The trip was long, but well worth the wait. Thursday was the first of three days of competition and we started it off with a bang. We had top 8 swims in almost every event, 2 new school records, and our only sophomore diver, Bethany Olson, became our first MVC Champion in 8 years! Everyone left that night with the highest of enthusiasm for the next day. Friday, was just like Thursday, we had yet again even more top 8 finishes, 2 more school records, and personal bests from almost everyone on the team. Saturday was just icing on the cake of a great weekend, we finished strong with great swims from all grades, 3 more school records were broken, the most points team points we have had in a while, and we were able to get Illinois State, Southern Illinois, and Evansville to do the Interlude with us on deck!! All together, the past weekend was one that will stick out for a long time when I look back at my swimming career, but that isn’t because of the fast swims or the broken records. This past weekend was about so much more for the UNI Swimming and Diving team, we worked together and became the closest we have been all season. Before every race we all could count on at least five of our teammates to be behind our lane yelling “Go Cats!” when the whistle blew. We all knew that no matter what our time was when we touched that wall, there would be girls there to give us high fives and hugs. Basically, we all knew that we all had support from each other no matter what, and that is the true meaning of being a team. Next year will be my last year with the UNI Swimming and Diving Team and I am looking forward to it being the best so far. We have come such a long way since the beginning of the year, and it is amazing to me to think what we will be next year. I want my teammates to know that I am so proud of all of us for the growth that we have all made in the last six months and the strong women we have all become. Also a special shout out and congratulations to the Seniors on amazing careers, and Kelly Rose McCullough for being such a great person to work with as Captain this year. Thank you all for taking the time to read the diary entries this year, it truly shows your support and dedication to the team and this great institution. I am proud to be a UNI athlete, and a UNI competitor, but most of all a UNI teammate. Have a good week! Go Panthers!
Hi! My name is Chelsea Hartman, I am a Junior distance swimmer from North Liberty, Iowa and co-captain of the UNI Women’s Swimming and Diving Team.
This past weekend the UNI Swimming and Diving team competed in the MVC Swimming and Diving Conference Meet in Carbondale, Illinois. We left on Tuesday for Southern Illinois, all with goals that had been set way back in August. The trip was long, but well worth the wait. Thursday was the first of three days of competition and we started it off with a bang. We had top 8 swims in almost every event, 2 new school records, and our only sophomore diver, Bethany Olson, became our first MVC Champion in 8 years! Everyone left that night with the highest of enthusiasm for the next day. Friday, was just like Thursday, we had yet again even more top 8 finishes, 2 more school records, and personal bests from almost everyone on the team. Saturday was just icing on the cake of a great weekend, we finished strong with great swims from all grades, 3 more school records were broken, the most points team points we have had in a while, and we were able to get Illinois State, Southern Illinois, and Evansville to do the Interlude with us on deck!!
All together, the past weekend was one that will stick out for a long time when I look back at my swimming career, but that isn’t because of the fast swims or the broken records. This past weekend was about so much more for the UNI Swimming and Diving team, we worked together and became the closest we have been all season. Before every race we all could count on at least five of our teammates to be behind our lane yelling “Go Cats!” when the whistle blew. We all knew that no matter what our time was when we touched that wall, there would be girls there to give us high fives and hugs. Basically, we all knew that we all had support from each other no matter what, and that is the true meaning of being a team.
Next year will be my last year with the UNI Swimming and Diving Team and I am looking forward to it being the best so far. We have come such a long way since the beginning of the year, and it is amazing to me to think what we will be next year. I want my teammates to know that I am so proud of all of us for the growth that we have all made in the last six months and the strong women we have all become. Also a special shout out and congratulations to the Seniors on amazing careers, and Kelly Rose McCullough for being such a great person to work with as Captain this year. Thank you all for taking the time to read the diary entries this year, it truly shows your support and dedication to the team and this great institution. I am proud to be a UNI athlete, and a UNI competitor, but most of all a UNI teammate. Have a good week! Go Panthers!
What up, Panther fans?! My name is Jody Petersen, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and I specialize in the backstroke events.
We were on the go for 12 straight days, finally getting a day off after traveling to Iowa City for our final (double) dual against the Hawkeyes, and the Leathernecks of Western Illinois. Even without a day of rest, this Swim and Dive team didn’t fail to perform with eagerness and enthusiasm, never backing down. A fortunate chunk of the team went home after the meet with their parents, while others travelled back to Cedar Falls that night. Either way, we left Iowa City with our heads up and maybe even a sense of relief that the regular season came to a happy end, with a win!
Lately, yardage has been tapering down at practices as we approach the last two weeks of season. Though we are backing down on the amount we swim, it is no time to be lazy. We are on top of sprints, every turn is sharp, likewise with every approach, and each thought in our minds best be positive. Everything we’ve worked for is coming down to these final days. One full week of practices is all we’ve got left to prepare for MVC Championships. We’ve omitted morning practices now, and our fatigue will dwindle while our energy will rise. This time of the season is definitely bright, and our attitudes and spirits will shine, as we get more and more excited to compete for the last time. I’m one for making the days count instead of counting down the days, and this is that time of season to get a set, positive mentality for the end.
Coach Stacey has been telling us to save our energy, put it in a jar and store in on the shelf so when it comes time next week to race, we’ll be ready. As this swimming and diving season heads to its last hurrah, we’ve gotten to the point where enough fuel has been added to this fire we’ve been building. Throughout this, and last, semester we’ve been training, each and every day adding fuel. In about a week, we’ll light the match, and race or dive our hearts out. (Inspired by a quote by Mia Hamm). Missouri Valley, here come the Panthers!
Hello Panther Fans!! My name is Jessa Kukral, I am a sophomore swimmer on the UNI Panther Swim & Dive team. I am from Waverly, Iowa, and specialize in backstroke and the individual medleys. The individual medleys (IM's) include equal distances of each of the four swim strokes--fly, back, breast, and free. I enjoy getting to do a little of everything!
This past weekend, on Sunday afternoon, the team traveled to Normal, Illinois, to swim against Illinois State one more time. It was a shorter meet setup, so it went by quickly. Good thing, too, because we all had classes the next day. We were on the bus at 5 a.m.! Overall, the team did an outstanding job of showing what we could do. We gave a tough fight, swam as hard and as fast as we could. We proved to Illinois State that we were a group of athletes to be reckoned with!
As I write this, the snow is flying around campus, and the UNI Swim & Dive team is flying into its last couple weeks of taper. Taper is the time of the season EVERYONE has been looking forward to. It's when the yardage gets shorter, and time to rest gets longer. This training technique helps us in these last weeks as we countdown to our Conference Meet. The fewer yards and the more rest we get, the faster we swim! Our speed should peak just in time for the big meet in Carbondale, IL, the third weekend in February. I know I speak for the whole team when I say that we are extremely excited for Conference!! We have been working so hard for this meet, we are out to prove that all our hard work pays off. We are your UNI Panther Swim & Dive Team, and I am proud to be a member. Go Panthers!!!
My name is April Mangrich and I am a senior that swims middle distance freestyle and butterfly for the Panthers.
In writing this diary entry I reflect not only upon the past six months of my final season, but also upon the past four years that I have competed for the Panthers, and even beyond that into the past 13 years of my swimming career. I will take the lessons that I have learned, the opportunities that I have been given, and most importantly, the friends that I have made through my participation in this sport with me as I enter the next phase in my life. Swimming has helped make me the person that I am today, and for that I am very grateful.
Our season is starting to wind down as we cut yardage and begin to focus on swimming the fastest races of our lives. It is crazy to think that I have entered taper for the final time! This past weekend we swam the Jayhawks and the Coyotes at the University of Kansas. We put up a good fight against the Jayhawks and pulled out a big victory against USD! A number of girls posted season best times, and we gained a lot of momentum as a team that we will take with us to our conference meet.
As a senior, I have mixed emotions about the season quickly coming to an end, but mostly I am excited to watch my teammates swim fast at conference and see what this team is really made of! LET’S GO CATS!!!
My name is Sarah Hedeen, I am a sophomore on the UNI Women’s Swim Team specializing in breast stroke.
It is at this point in the season, as we are entering taper, that all our little swimmer dreams come true. At this point we are given the opportunity to sit back, relax, and reflect upon the mind-blowingly hard workouts we have muscled through this season.
Well, not quite.
We do still have to do some work, but the load is “tapered” significantly. We taper so that we can be well rested for our final meet, the MVC Conference Championships.
Taper is when we finally reap the benefits of all the hard hours spent in the pool. We rest a little so we can cut time and swim the fastest races of the season and our lives. In these races, just as in those hard workouts, we will leave absolutely everything in the pool. And in these exhausting moments we think to ourselves, “how did I get myself into this in the first place?” Only a swimmer knows how difficult a season can be. Waking up at 5:30 am, walking to practice in the bitter cold, diving into an equally freezing pool, all to accomplish what? I ask myself this question often, but the answer has become simple.
I submit to the requirements of my sport because what they demand from me ends in a rewarding sense of accomplishment. Obviously there is a high level of satisfaction in doing something that very few others can do. There is an even higher level of satisfaction in doing this “something” well, even expertly. However, there is no prouder feeling than looking at the pleased face of a teammate after she gets a best time, completes a difficult dive, or “touches out” an opponent and wins. She is my teammate – swimming and diving on the team’s behalf and therefore on my behalf. There is no greater feeling of pride, for all of us. Being on this team has been the richest experience of my life, and I am infinitely grateful for all the heroes, friends, and best friends I have encountered by simply swimming back and forth, every single day.
So I want my teammates to understand that I know for what and for whom they are competing. It is all for that moment after their last race or dive when they look up at the clock or judges and see that close finish, best dive, personal record, school record, pool record - whatever it may be. I know and understand each’s level of satisfaction and all the laps, sweat, pain, and joy that are behind it. Our pride, theirs for me, mine for them – for that difficult thing done well, for each of us doing better than we have done before.
Happy taper! Go Cats!
Hello! My name is Kayla McCormick and I am another freshman swimmer for the Panthers. I am from Caledonia, Minnesota, and I specialize in sprint freestyle and butterfly. Not only is Christmas training a vigorous 2 weeks of specific training to get us ready for MVC Championships, it is also a fun 2 weeks where we get to know each other better along with coming that much closer to our goals. We have been swimming twice a day for the past 12 days along with lifting, running, abs, and dryland exercises to make us stronger so we can outlast the competition in the weeks to come. We have proved through these last 2 weeks that we can do anything as a team. Our positive attitudes and intensity at workouts have been at their peak during Christmas training which contributes to a hard working atmosphere where we all want to become the best we can be. We are learning that by giving our ultimate best each day, we are maximizing the gifts that we have been given.
Being surrounded by Division 1 athletes is showing me that there are many of us who are striving for a common goal and working harder than ever before to get there. Falls and triumphs occur along the way, but with the supportive teammates by our sides, our potential is endless. We are over halfway through our season, and keep looking forward to Conference with goals in mind at every practice so we can perform our ultimate best in February.
Taper time is just around the corner, which is when we start to rest and recover, so we only have a little bit longer to endure. The grueling practices will only pay off, so by keeping our heads up and taking it each practice at a time, success is the only possible result. I have learned that this Panther family of swimmers and divers are much stronger than we think we are and have proved it day by day in the pool, the weightroom, and the classroom.
The other day, Coach Stacey told us that she is proud of us, so that must mean that we are definitely on the right path to success.
Greetings from the winter wonderland of NE Iowa! This is MacKenzie Smith, a freshman at UNI from Cresco, Iowa. My major is biology and I specialize as a sprint freestyler on the UNI Women’s Swimming and Diving Team.
It was an awesome Fall Semester with hard work leading to new accomplishments, not only in school but also in the pool. Right now I am currently on my winter break enjoying the Christmas holiday with friends and family. Even my oldest brother Taylor came home from California, who I haven’t seen since summer. I’ve also been working out at the local fitness center both in and out of the water in preparation for winter training. I’ve gotten to spend time with old friends, sharing with each other our college experiences. Next Monday will be the start of the second half of our season with more hard work and more determination.
Winter training goes from December 27th, my birthday, until January 14th, our last home meet against Minnesota State (my dad’s college)… I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this, all I know is that we will be working harder than ever before. I am both nervous and excited! I am nervous from what I have heard from upper classmen about how intense it is and how long the workouts are, but excited about how great of shape I will be in from it. I heard that Coach Stacey comes up with land workouts that really emphasizes on the abs, six pack here I come! I cannot wait to get through the next two weeks because than I will be in the best shape of the season. Then I will ultimately be ready to take on the competition at conference and shatter some personal times!
My name is Caryn Knight and I am a freshman on the UNI Swimming and Diving Team, while majoring in Actuarial Science and Applied Economic Analysis. I am from Pewaukee, Wisconsin and I specialize in mid-distance breaststroke and IM.
This week, we wrapped up first semester with final exams. As a freshman, it is both exciting and relieving to have one semester of college under my belt. In order for us to focus on our schoolwork and keep the stress level to a minimum, Coach Stacey allowed us to pick one practice a day, either in the morning or afternoon depending on our schedule. We came in and swam the practices Stacey made for us to complete on our own. When we were finished, we were free to continue our studying for finals. The main goal of this week was to make sure we were all working on keeping our grades up and finishing the semester strong. It was nice to have a slight break from the pool in order to direct our energy toward our classes. However, we all know as soon as winter break is over, we will be hitting the water harder than ever to prepare for the end of the season’s championship meet.
We will be heading home for the holidays on December 17th after morning practice for a much-needed break with our families. It will be a great time to rest up before we come back to Cedar Falls for some vigorous Christmas training and team bonding. I wish everyone a Happy Holiday season and GO PANTHERS!!
I am Ashlee Graham and I am a freshman on the UNI swimming and diving team. I am from Cedar Falls and I specialize in butterfly and backstroke.
This past weekend we finished competing at our mid-season taper meet, the Iowa Invite. This three day meet tested our physical and mental toughness. We had to push ourselves past the pain, the exhaustion and just go. Just like every Monday morning when Coach Jed makes us sprint to the top of the dome stairs with our weight vests, we had to put all the negative thoughts behind us. “Expect nothing, be ready for anything,” is a saying we’ve heard a lot this season from Coach Jed. Everything he has us do makes us stronger either physically or mentally and it showed at the meet. I saw races when it looked like the race was over and done, but our girls dug deep and pushed themselves past their own limits to beat swimmers beside them. They not only swam for themselves, but for their team. Each and every swimmer and diver stayed in the fight and did not let themselves or the team down. I am proud to be part of the UNI swimming and diving team. We showed every team at the meet who the Panthers are and what we can do.
As finals week approaches, we are all busy studying and preparing for the end of the semester. But after our tests are done we will be ready to hit the pool again with our fierce determination to be the best team we can be. Go Panthers!!!
My name is Brittany Murray and I am a Freshman here at UNI. I’m an accounting major and a diver on the team.
After a much-needed break, we came back to UNI to train for one of our most important meets of the year, the Iowa invite. Our team has put in countless hours for this meet and even began a little taper in hopes that we would come out with some personal records for the season. I personally have never experienced anything like this meet, along with many of the girls on the team, so it was a nerve-wrecking week. This meet was not just one day though; it was three-day meet. It was not only physically exhausting but also mentally exhausting.
Friday we left at 5:45 am to start our weekend long meet. Walking into the Iowa pool was overwhelming at first! There were some amazing teams there that I couldn’t help but watch. Some of the other divers did 10 meter platform (which is really high, like the one you watch in the Olympics!!) which was amazing, but completely intimidating! This meet had prelims in the morning starting at 10, and finals starting at 6 so it was a couple of very long days! We knew this meet would be hard, but we were ready to fight. Many girls met their goals and got personal season times along with a couple girls making it back to finals! Though the weekend was fun spending lots of time with the team, Sunday night came and we were all ready to get home and go to bed, only to hit the books the next morning to start studying for finals. This weekend would not have been possible without the support of our team and coaches. Looking back it was a great experience and only got us one-step closer to conference! I am excited to see how the rest of the season goes, and how much more we can accomplish as a team!
My name is Rebecca Ortmann and I am a freshman from Woodstock, Illinois. In swimming I specialize in sprint freestyle. We have currently returned from our Thanksgiving break from UNI and are getting ready for the Iowa Invite to be held at University of Iowa this weekend.
In order to be ready for the Iowa Invite, we started a mid-season taper. During practice we are continuously working on our turns and breathing. Coach Stacey wants everything to be perfect so we all can swim our best this coming weekend.
Since I am a freshman here at UNI, I do not really know what to expect from this weekend’s big meet. I am very excited about participating in my first college invite. I cannot wait to see what my times will be after our mini taper. I am positive that I am not alone in feeling a bit nervous. I am sure that all of the freshmen are a little anxious, but yet very excited, to begin our travels to Iowa City at 5:45 Friday morning.
So far this season has been a great experience and I cannot wait to see how far we can go as a team!
GO PANTHERS – SWIM FAST!!!
My name is Stephanie Frederick and I am from Bellevue, Washington. I am currently a sophomore here at UNI and I specialize in sprint freestyle for the UNI Woman’s Swimming and Diving team. As of right now school has finally ended for Thanksgiving break and everyone is at the point of exhaustion. Not only from school but also from the continuous weeks of training.
We are finishing off our time here with a double practice on Saturday and with singles on Sunday and Monday. The whole team is ready to go home but we know that we need to get ready for one of our biggest meets of the season, the Iowa Invitational. All of us are pushing ourselves to our limits at this point knowing that we will get great results if we put in 100 percent effort in the next few days.
Thanksgiving break will initially be the beginning of our taper for that meet. Personally, these next few days will try to be done without surging pain through my left knee. Over the past month I have been having issues with it. From running domes stairs to lifting weights, my knee could not stand the wear and tear. Going to physical therapy and doing constant treatment on it I have been doing everything I can to be the best teammate I can be. Pulling out meets when I know I need to swim fast, and finishing practice even if the pain is unbearable. I do it for my team.
Coach Stacey has really been inspirational for me throughout all of this. Her motto for not only me but for the team has been, “don’t think about the time your going to get, just get out there and race”. Getting out there and racing is something I have definitely been living up to. A really good example for our whole team would be the meet we competed against Iowa State. It was a Wednesday night and no one really knew what to expect considering we hadn’t had a weeknight meet yet this year.
All of us stepped it up and got out there and raced. I can honestly say it was one of our better meets we put forth because not only did all of us want it, we wanted to prove we could race when least expecting it.
As we near the end of the semester all of us are hoping that all of our time in and out of the pool will show how strong we really are. We have all been working really hard, and by the sets we have been accomplishing, we are ready for anything.
My name is Bethany Olson. I am a sophomore from Cedar Falls, IA, and I am majoring in elementary education. I am one of the divers on the team.
The UNI swimming and diving team headed north (way north) this week for our first away meet of the season! On Friday, at 7:00 a.m., we departed from the dome parking lot and began our long journey to face the University of North Dakota. After a stop at Applebee’s for lunch, we continued north. FINALLY, around 5:00 p.m., we arrived at the pool. After we stretched out, it was time to check out the diving boards. We tested out the boards and chose which ones we wanted to use in the meet. After warming up our dives, we had dinner and headed to the Holiday Inn Express for the night to rest up for the meet.
The next day everyone was filled with anticipation and excitement for our first away meet of the season! We arrived at the pool to stretch and warm-up. The entire team was ready to show off what we have been working so hard for. The words of Jed, our strength trainer, were ringing in our ears, “You are NEVER out of the fight!” We were determined to prove it. I watched the swimmers push their limits as they dropped time from our first meet, only one week earlier. We pushed our limits on the diving boards as well. I battled one of the UND divers throughout all six dives on one meter and then again for all six dives on three meter. Since we were far from home, the UNI crowd was sparse. I am thankful that the swimmers are so supportive of the divers. The UNI swimmers cheered for us just as loud as the entire UND crowd. Shouts of encouragement and approval filled the pool deck. Their cheers inspired me to remain in the fight. There is no greater feeling than being part of this team. Although we lost to UND, we gained confidence and experience that will motivate us to keep improving.
Time to rest? Not for us. Our team was right back at it early Monday morning. This week was filled with more grueling stadium stairs with weighted vests, demanding lifting workouts, and challenging practices in the pool. There is something powerful about accomplishing exhausting workouts as a team. Week after week, practice after practice, we push each other to do more than we think is possible.
Next up? University of South Dakota. We’re ready for the fight.
Hi everyone! My name is Tina Sherwood, I am a freshman at UNI this year. I am from St. Louis, Missouri, and swim mid-distance breaststroke and IM.
Being a freshman on the team, I didn’t know what to expect. But from the first day of practice and throughout the season everyone on the team has done an amazing job of making me feel welcome and like a part of the team. This week was officially the beginning of the UNI Swimming and Diving season. We had our first meet against Illinois State University, and it was a tough one.
The stands were painted purple and gold in support of UNI, and all the Panther Parents attended the meet, along with Jed, our strength trainer, and Glen, our technique coach. Everyone did a great job in supporting one another, the cheering from our side of the pool was incredible. Everyone on the team gave it their best on Saturday and put up a great fight, but the ISU Redbirds are a very talented team and challenged every athlete on our team.
Even after a tough loss on Saturday, we kept our heads up and came in to practice Monday morning, ready to prove ourselves. We knew how hard we had been working to get to this point in the season, and no team would make us feel inferior. So after morning swim on Monday, we all went into the Dome, ready to run Everests. These are like nothing I have ever done before. Each person has to wear a 30 pound vest and sprint up the Dome stairs as fast as they can. I was tired, we all were, but after what happened Saturday made me just want to push myself that much further, to be stronger than the next team we compete against. After we all finished the required number of Everests for that day, Jed surprised us and yelled, “ONE MORE.” Without thinking I turned around and sprinted right back up those stairs. The whole team did the exact same thing. I am so proud of everyone on the UNI Swim and Dive team, the fight in all these girls is amazing, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.
This group of girls is amazingly talented and I look forward to what we will be able to accomplish in the future. GO PANTHERS!!!
Hey everyone! My name is Josie Itzen and I am a senior originally from Cedar Falls, Iowa, specializing in sprint/mid-distance freestyle and IM.
As the UNI swimming & diving team approaches our first meet, we are met with nothing but challenges as the week ensues. At this point, we’ve been through so many practices it’s easy to forget what day it is and how many workouts we have that day. Whenever I go back to bed after a morning workout consisting of swimming and weights, it always feels like a different day when I wake up. It’s funny to think that we’ve been through two workouts before 8 a.m., whereas most students won’t be up for another few hours.
On Mondays, we head to the dome after swim practice to do a workout called Everests. We all put on 25-lb. weight vests and our coaches have us sprint from the bottom of the dome stairs to the top. It’s nothing but a full-on sprint, and we’ve never been through anything like it. Sure, we’ve done snake charmers, which pushes our limits through endurance, weaving up and down dome stairs with push-ups and sit-ups in between. But this gives us a new challenge, another chance to prove how strong we are getting and how much we’ve improved just in the mere weeks we’ve been practicing. We are able to do this and drive ourselves because we are already such a close team.
We have an amazing group of swimmers & divers and it’s something I absolutely love about being a college athlete—the team. Because no matter what you’ve been through, no matter how much pain you’re in, and no matter what set you’re struggling against, there is always a team who is right there beside you fighting the same thing.
So when we had our first meet on Saturday, we remembered all that we’ve overcome in the few weeks we’ve been training together. And although we fell against the redbirds, needless to say we gave it our all and it was a good first meet of the season for us. “Expect nothing, be ready for anything,” as Jed would put it, and he knows we can overcome any obstacle given to us, both in the water and out. I’m so proud to be a member of this team, of this family, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. GO PANTHERS!
My name is Kristin Staude, and I am a freshman from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I am a Chemistry and Biology double major and I am one of the divers on the UNI Swimming and Diving Team. When I was looking at colleges, I knew I wanted a school that could offer me a good education, but I also knew that there was a part of me that was not quite ready to stop diving. It is something that I am truly passionate about and that I absolutely love. UNI was able to offer me both a great science department and allowed me to be on this team to continue doing what I love, so here I am, a proud Panther!
For the first part of the season, the divers did not have a coach. We would work together to watch and critique each other’s dives. This would sometimes get frustrating but we worked through it together and did what we could on our own. These past two weeks however, have been exciting for the divers because our new coach Lori started working with us. I have never dove 3-meter so we have been working hard to learn new dives in preparation for our meet on October 23. We also had our practice time changed so that the divers are able to use both boards, and then the swimmers can use all eight lanes. Each day at diving practice, we stretch out before getting on the boards. We have been working on both 1 and 3 meter to improve old dives and to develop new ones. Obtaining new dives comes with a lot of hard work and sometimes a little pain, but in the end, it is very rewarding. When you get a new dive you have never done before, it is the best feeling in the world! We also have a Tivo system that we use at practice, which allows us to record, and watch our dives. This is very beneficial because it allows us to watch our dive in slow motion and pick out little things we need to fix. At the end of our practice, we do a set of abs and more stretching.
In addition to our practice in the water, we also have weights in the mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On these mornings, we are working in the weight room with Coach Jed, our strength coach. He defiantly is getting us into shape as we are doing many squats with the bar, and pull-ups. He is constantly telling us that we should expect nothing, but be ready for anything. I feel we have been doing that especially these past few weeks. I think it was last week after doing a circuit we were all waiting for coach Jed to tell us what to do next. Finally, he said, “You girls are done.” I think all of us girls were ready for what ever he wanted us to do next, ready for anything, but instead we were done. That was such a great feeling to have, knowing that we had done the workout and would have been willing and ready to do more had we needed to. Even though a lot of us find ourselves sore and complaining about the weight room, I think it is helping us not only to become stronger, but it is preparing us for whatever might come next, both in practice and in the real world.
We are going to continue working hard this week and pushing ourselves in practice as we prepare for our first meet next weekend against Illinois State. In diving, we are going to keep pushing ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and throw new dives. Even though they might be scary at first, we know that we need them not only for our upcoming meet, but also just to become better divers. I am so excited to be a part of this team and it has been an absolute blast getting to know all of these truly amazing girls! I cannot wait for what this season has to offer and I am so excited to have this opportunity before me! Go Panthers!
My name is Kathleen Varner, I am a freshman from Galesburg, Illinois, and specialize in mid-distance/distance freestyle.
I come from a small town and have never been on a club team before. When looking at colleges everyone would ask me, will you be swimming in college? Swimming is a part of me. I couldn't picture myself not participating in the sport. It takes a lot of time and effort. I am pushing myself more than I ever have before and everything is different. We are all ready to make a change!
We have been swimming and diving for about seven weeks now and have been working hard, challenging, and cheering each other on. For the non-swimmers out there, swimming is not easy. We get up for early morning practices, as well as swim in the afternoon. When we get up for morning practice, it is not just swimming we do. After we swim, we get dressed and rush out of the locker room for a (wonderful) workout with our strength coach Jed. Man, does he work us hard! We lift weights and run stairs, not just any stairs but DOME stairs. The dome stairs are killer and you have to be mentally ready. We started out with running two sides of dome stairs and worked our way up to five. Throughout the weeks of doing dome stairs, I could see in the eyes of my teammates the worry and nervousness of even thinking of running one side. It was a challenge, and let me tell you, it hurt!
Coach Jed's new slogan is, EXPECT NOTHING, BUT BE READY FOR ANYTHING. Thursday morning we thought we were going to be taking a little break. We also thought we were done with the stairs; little did we know, we weren't. Coach Jed would be making us run six sides of stairs. Just then, we found out what `expect nothing' really meant. Nobody complained or thought about it, we just ran. It feels good when you get done with a hard set and you were struggling, but finished with a good workout. We are all doing a great job at staying positive and stepping up to a challenge. I love everything about the team and I am amazed at how hard we all work. Yes, practices are hard, we all hurt, but at the end of the day we still have a smile on our face. We are all going through the same thing. Everyday the team bonds and becomes closer to one another. It is AWESOME and I love it!!! No matter what, you always have 26 girls by your side, cheering you on, in the pool and out. We are one big family and stick together. We know the real meaning of TEAM and we show it to others. It is the ability to work together toward a common vision, even when we're apart.
Tuesday morning's Coach Jed and his posse work-out before it is our time to get in. Jed is always asking, which one of you girls is brave enough to race me? I took that challenge Tuesday morning. He was finishing up pull-ups from the diving board and I stood there watching him, waiting. He doesn't even put his face in the water, but he tries real hard. We'll see who feels the burn now! Take your mark, GO, somebody yelled out and off we went, a whole 25 yards! I was giving him words of encouragement as I swam next to him. Come on Jed. You can do it. You're almost there. I touched the wall and he stopped at the T. Good job, finish all the way to the wall!! It was pretty funny and we all got a kick out of it.
This week was our intersquad meet and we all had a ton of fun participating in it. Coach Stacey split our team into two separate teams. We had the purple team, and we had THE GOLD TEAM, which I was on. Throughout the week we would have little riddles to solve or games to play. Whichever team won would earn a certain amount points. One of these games was trying to fit 7 caps on one head. We also pushed a boxcar on the bottom of the pool to the other side. Another fun game was the two-man relay where two people swam connected. Some chose to hold hands and pull with one arm, others chose to hang onto feet. I think my partner was dragging me along in the water, as I was laughing, choking because we all looked so funny. Another fun race was one which we couldn't use our arms. We had to place our hand in our armpits and swim down with our elbows. If you can imagine this, we looked like chickens trying to swim. Each team was cheering on their teammates and everyone tried hard to help the team by earning points. This was funny at times because this whole week we are competing against our own teammates. We would have little bickers against each other trying to show off who is better. We would also give the coaches little treats, trying to bribe them for more points.
Saturday was race day. The pool was decorated in purple and gold posters made by each team. Everyone did a great job and it was fun to see everyone compete! After the meet each team had come up with a skit. It was cool watching everyone having fun and being goofy.
We had a lot going on this week. I would summarize it as building teamwork, encouragement, training hard, and having fun! I am excited to see what we all can do at our first meet! Thank you, we really appreciate all your support and hope you continue to do so. GO PANTHERS!
My name is Rachel Oyibo, I am a freshman from Des Moines, Iowa, and I specialize in sprint freestyle.
Vince Lombardi once said "Build for your team a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another and of strength to be derived by unity." Everyone so far has stressed the idea of the team and how it helps through all situations so I might as well put my bit. Swimming for UNI is one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my entire life. I have gone through so many ups and downs just within these first few weeks and it's been really tough balancing everything. I am so proud of everyone on the team for making it this far already and staying strong though it all. This week has definitely been hard on all our legs. From running dome stairs 4 times through to doing countless squats in the weight room to kicking numerous times in the pool, our legs are sore and tired only halfway through the week. Thursday morning it was so hard to get out of bed because I was so tired and sore I just wanted to sleep, but going to practice, knowing everyone is going through the same thing, and hearing everyone's encouragement helps me push through it all. Thinking ahead about how much we're going to improve in these next few months makes it all worth it. Sometimes I ask myself why I'm in this sport. Why swimming? Out of all the sports I could have chosen. It is because swimming is so much more than what's seen in the pool. Swimming teaches time management, strength, endurance, skill, hard work, ambition, mental toughness, and most importantly how to be a member of a team. I am so proud to be a member of the UNI Swimming and Diving team! GO PANTHERS!
My name is Natalie Johnson, I'm from Nashotah, Wisconsin, and I specialize in sprint/mid-distance freestyle and backstroke.
It's the second week of morning swim and lifting practices, and I'm still nodding off in my 9:30 statistics class. My shoulders hurt from lifting, my knee hurts from running, I'm a little sick and breathing during swimming is tough now, too. To be honest, I'm a little surprised I haven't collapsed yet.
But I love it.
Through all the tough workouts, Coach Jed's motivating during lifting and 3-mile runs, there's been a team to support me. My club team was full of different personalities, each driving only themselves towards final goals. Having a team to support me and people I can encourage back is a new experience, but one I will gladly "endure." There's nothing like pushing through a hard set and hearing "Good job ladies!" or "just one more! Keep going!" from the lanes around you as everyone strives for their own betterment, but at the same time honestly care about yours. It's awesome to be part of a team that's so connected.
This week, we went to the Langham Challenge Course somewhere south of Iowa City and had the opportunity to participate in the High Ropes Challenge. Unfortunately, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse and toss out a nice big thunderstorm before we even got there! While we waited for the weather to clear off, we played communication games, practiced a trust fall and lifted each other through the holes in a bungee-cord spider web. The real test was the actual Trust Fall off a small wooden platform, but nobody needed to worry. Even Coach Stacey trusted us to catch her after throwing all the past hard practices at us. Once the weather cleared, we were allowed to go on the actual high ropes. Each girl picked her own challenge, be it running across a log, a Burma bridge, or the Tarzan-like Multi-Rope. Some even moved on to harder challenges through the day. Our final test was the Leap of Faith: a climb to the top of a 40-foot telephone pole and a jump to a trapeze bar hanging out in space. Coach Stacey once again stepped up for the team and took her leap. I think this was the most symbolic activity of the day, as we were all taking a leap of faith and trusting the rest of the team to be there for us and cheer, even when we miss the target. This week was all about team spirit, team goals, and team unity. We learned that without each other, we're just a random bunch of athletes. Together, we are the UNI Women's Swim and Dive Team. We are True Panthers. We're here to win.
You never know what you are going to get at 5:45 in the morning; you just hope it's something that you can get through. This being our first week of actual swim mornings I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I had no idea what to expect, and to be truthful I was a little nervous. Monday morning at 6:45 we did some light running a couple stairs, not a big deal, if you're training to do marathons. Your first time doing dome stairs looks like it is going to be scary and that's because it is. After you make it through you can't believe that you did it! I don't think I would have gotten through it if I wasn't being constantly driven by my team to go faster. Tuesday 6:00 am, all of us jump into the cold water. We do our warm up and then comes set after set. I almost thought it wouldn't end, but finally Stacey told us we were finished and to hurry. We now had to go endure lifting, which we all know is not going to be easy with Jed there constantly pushing us. He warms us up, but to me it is like a full workout. He makes us do things I didn't think I could have done. Squat after squat your legs are burning but we can't give up that easily. We won't give up because we are UNI swimmers and divers. We knew this was coming, so now we must be able to do it. After we are finally done with Jed's boot camp we can finally rest, except for the 2 hours of class I have ahead of me. Just when you think the days over we have some lighter running at afternoon practice. You would think the day has to be over now, right? Nope, we swim with our team, each of us working for the same goal. The only thing that hasn't made me fall apart yet, is the support from my team. I know they are going through the exact pain that I am. Without them I wouldn't have anyone to talk to and tell how sore I really am. No one would understand. Finally a little rest comes our way for Wednesday, sleep in day! I thought I would never be so excited for a Wednesday, but I am. Two hours more of sleeping is a dream come true. As Wednesday afternoon rolls around you are hoping for an easy practice, but you don't always get what you want. Glen, someone who is supposed to be on our side, makes us do sprints and work hard. As soon as he leaves though, you're stuck with Stacey, so to speak. It's not a bad thing but it is definitely not good when you still have forty five minutes left of practice. After all the running we have done this week, she decides to do a new set. Legs on fire. At first I couldn't get around the name. Obviously my legs were going to be on fire. We kick at the wall and when she says go we must sprint to the other side as fast as we possibly can. Having my teammates there beside me kept me kicking even when my legs were past the point of burning. I know I wouldn't have been able to keep this up without them. I am so proud to be a UNI swimmer, because my teammates are irreplaceable. I am glad to say I have made it through my third week of practice, now only five and half months to go. Catherine Vercillo
Hey Panther fans! My name is Tori Ward and I am a senior from St. Louis, Missouri. As we end the second week of practices, I feel like this past week was really all about persevering. We were pushed to our limits and beyond in the mornings at weights, and I think we could all agree that describing how we felt as sore was an understatement. However, we were excited to get in the water and continue getting back into the swing of things. We were challenged in the pool as well, and persevered through our sore and tired muscles. One thing that got us through was knowing we were all feeling the same way, and just continuing to encourage each other through each set. One thing I love about this team is no matter how much everyone hurts, we all show up to practice with a smile on our faces, ready to take on the next challenge.
Being a senior is a weird feeling, with not having anyone older than you, and it's especially weird with 13 freshman (the largest freshman class we've had in my years on the team), but in my opinion they are all doing great, working hard, and willing to push themselves more than ever before. It's a great time to be a part of the UNI Swimming and Diving team! I am so excited for this season! Please continue to support us, you have no idea how much we appreciate it!
Hey Everyone! My name is Jamie Pearson and I am a freshman to the team from Fort Dodge, IA. I attended Fort Dodge Senior High where I participated in swimming, golf and cheerleading. My family consists of my mom and dad, Eric and Lynette, and my brother Colin. I also have a black lab named Mulligan.
I moved in Thursday Aug. 19. My mom and I showed up early and organized majority of my things and then my dad and brother came and helped with the big stuff. I also got to meet my roommate, Caryn Knight, who is also a part of the team. Saying goodbye to my parents was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but this team is so nice and welcoming. The upperclassmen have made me feel at home and have made this adjustment so much better!!
The first week of captains practices were also lots of fun! We did some swimming, but lots of games. We also did a scavenger hunt and I must admit my team tied for first. We also had some relay races on Friday and once again, my team was victorious!!
Classes have also been going well! It's much different having all this free time from high school, but I'm trying to fill it with productive things: studying, eating, sleeping.... But I think that we are all making the adjustment successfully. Official season practices have also started! While I must admit I have never been this sore in my whole life, it will be worth it end! The team has been so encouraging to everyone and making it so much fun! While it has been tough and such an adjustment from high school practices, it will get better with time and when we get into shape!
I hope everyone reading this comes out to our meets and supports us! And that you all continue to read the Pantherette Diaries!!