Cougars diving into the new season caps first

WSU swimming competes with themselves in the Crimson and Gray Intrasquad



Sophomore Lauren Burckel places fifth in the 100-meter breaststroke on Sept. 28 at Gibb Pool. The Pac-12 Championships start at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continue through Sunday at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington.

PARKER R. SCHAFER, Evergreen columnist

WSU swimming is looking to make a splash in this new season. They will begin by coming away with a win no matter what in their intrasquad meet at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Physical Education Building.

Head coach Matt Leach has been with the team for the past four years and has won a total of seven meets over the past two seasons.

The swim team has a resounding 23 athletes competing this year. With nine freshmen, five sophomores, six juniors, two seniors and only one graduate student. With such a young roster, there is a lot of room for growth.

The size of the team has remained rather unchanged over the past four years, with 24 athletes being on the roster consistently.

Of the nine freshmen, there are Clara Anderson (freestyle/butterfly), Skylar Brgoch (freestyle/butterfly), Kirsten De Goede (butterfly/backstroke), Dori Hathazi (butterfly/freestyle/ individual medley), Emily Lundgren (breaststroke/IM), Elli Moss (backstroke/butterfly), Emily O’Brien (backstroke/butterfly), Anna Rauchholz (backstroke/freestyle) and Lauren Wille (breaststroke/IM).

Many of the freshmen athletes on the team made the “Sub-Club” during their high school years.

Making Sub-Club is when one can swim a 100-meter race, in under one minute, typically in backstroke, butterfly or freestyle. This is an outstanding accomplishment of any swimmer and a truly impressive feat.

The sophomores consist of Angela Di Palo (freestyle), Selena Duran (sprint freestyle), Noelle Harvey (freestyle/backstroke), Sophie Macy (breaststroke/IM) and Taylor Schababerle (freestyle).

Some of the athletes are swimming sprint races which consist of any race that is 200 meters or less. These sprint racers will be the ones who are a part of the sub club. For example, Duran swam an impressive 49.78 seconds in her 100-meter freestyle.

On the junior squad, there are Hailey Grotte (sprint freestyle), Josie Liebzeit (freestyle/IM), Makayla Poloni (backstroke), Kiana Swain (butterfly/backstroke), Kaya Takashige (breaststroke/butterfly) and Alexandra Vartiainen (breaststroke).

The two seniors on the team are Mikaela Kirton (butterfly/freestyle) and Jewel Springer (butterfly/IM).

Both of them have very impressive times in their own races and competed in over 16 meets in the last six years along with competing at the Pac-12 Conference Championships as juniors.

Rebeca Oviedo Cardenas (freestyle) is the only graduate student on the team. Although, this is her first year on the team as she is a transfer student who is already performing well.

Leach has a lot of faith in his new team and expects them to do well this year.

“Every year is different it’s a new chapter and a new book,” Leach said. “With this new chapter of all these freshmen coming in, you know, we’ve got people who are knocking on the door of the Olympic team for their home country.”

The returning swimmers have had a very good outlook on the community they are a part of and to see it grow has been meaningful in their eyes.

“Overall, just keep growing as a family and keep showing everybody, Pac-12 and everybody involved that we do belong here and we’re ready to fight and that we’re ready to make some moves,” Harvey said.

It seems that this mentality is shared amongst the team, showing that they are looking to grow as athletes and as a team.

“I think we have a really good foundation set, not only swimming-wise but also relationship-wise,” Grotte said. “I think compared to past years we have a really, really tight-knit family growing and I think that that has shown in the pool along with outside of the pool and I think that’s going to help us a lot this season.”