By Brandon Bielinski
The Purple Knights women’s swim team has won five of the seven meets this season. This includes a first place finish at the North Country Invitational at SUNY-Potsdam on Nov. 18, the largest meet they have competed at all semester, as they defeated six other teams.
“I think the most successful thing has been a commitment to team culture,” said head coach Eileen Hall, who has been head coach of the team for eight of the nine years she’s coached at the college. “I would say without a doubt this is the best team that I’ve had ever in terms of positivity and team atmosphere,” she said, adding that the team has created an environment in which everyone feels they can take competitive risks and everyone feels their performance matters.
Hall also believes more intensive practices may be contributing to the success of the team. “We have increased this year’s training in terms of volume and intensity,”said Hall, stating that in comparison to other years the team has done more yardage in terms of length of swims and lifting this season. “The student athletes have chosen to elevate their performance from just a casual time improvement over the season to really trying to achieve conference success and then even national success.”
“My definitive goal is really to be in that top 8 at conferences this year,”said Patty Kohn ’19, the top points scorer on the team. Kohn swims distance, and mid-distance events. Currently Kohn holds the team record in the mile with a personal best time of 18:22. She swam her personal best last year at the 2017 NE 10 Conference meet where she placed 13.
This year, Kohn is already seeded fourth in the NE 10 Conference as a result of her early season success at the North Country Invitational where she finished first place in the mile. She and Hall are currently working together to make her fast enough to go to NCAA’s by the time she graduates.
Genevieve Gigandet, the team’s only diver, has her eyes set on setting a new school record for the one meter dive. “I really want to touch the record that’s on the board right now,” said Gigandet, referring to the record for the one meter dive at the college of 246 set by Sue Judge in 1986. “I have yet to break a score of 200 so that’s kind of my mini goal,” said Gigandet. Currently, Gigandet is already halfway to reaching her goal, only midway through the season. Gigandet intends to increase the difficulty of the dives she performs to achieve her goal.
Both Kohn and Gigandet agree that the change in team atmosphere is what has allowed the team to be so successful this season. “[It’s] the attitude of the team collectively to achieve our goals in terms of individual and team goals…there’s just this energy of complete positivity and encouragement among all of our teammates,”said Kohn.