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Jimmies swimming and diving continues to build in second season

The Jimmies sent four swimmers and one diver to the national championships last season.

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University of Jamestown swimmers, Abigail Martin (white cap), Natalie Miske (blue cap), and Emma Pickrel (black cap) get set on the platforms before jumping into the pool during a practice on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — The University of Jamestown's swimming and diving team continues to deal with upheaval into their second season as its first meet of the season was postponed.

The Jimmies swimming and diving team has its second head coach and second graduate assistant in only its second season of existence. The Jimmies hired Craig Mallery on March 23, and he hired Maddy Cock to be his assistant coach on July 21.

The coaching carousel is not new for the Jimmies' only upperclassman, senior Courtnay Kiecker, as she has had to adjust to a new coach every year she has been in college.

“It’s a little bit of a struggle because you just have to learn a new coaching style and learn how practices are going to be run, get used to a new coach, and then they have to learn how you swim and everything,” Kiecker said. “That’s a little bit of a challenge. I’d say this year it’s been a really easy transition with coach Craig. It’s going really well.”

The team was supposed to face Northern State University on Sept. 17 but the meet was postponed. The Jimmies now open the season at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at the University of Mary. The Jimmies will have five new freshmen and eight returning members.

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As a result of the postponed meet, the team has been limited to just practicing for under a month.

Mallery said his expectations for the season are to get as many people to the NAIA championships as possible but to not allow his team to forget about what it takes to get there.

“We have a really great group whose training hard and they’re training fast and the training model is such that people can have success in the season as well as their championship meet and nationals,” Mallery said.

One person who made the national championships was sophomore diver Jada Shorter. Shorter compared former coach Harry Baden’s style and Cock’s style.

“Maddie’s coaching style is very different than Harry’s,” she said. “Harry had a very upbeat and intense (style) whereas Maddie has more of a repetitive and relaxed style.”

Kiecker said her goals are to try to go out on top. She participates in the fly stroke, backstroke and sprint events.

“It’s my last season so I just want to give it my all, leave everything in the pool,” Kiecker said. “I just want to end this season thinking that’s the best I could’ve done. Time goals, I want to make A finals in one of my events at least at conference, hopefully, qualify for nationals in a relay.”

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Kiecker was named the team captain, which is a job she begrudgingly accepts.

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“I don’t like to be seen as above everyone but I know especially the freshman they do look up to me as a leader because I am older and a captain,” Kiecker said. “I don’t like to act all high and mighty because I am a senior and a captain. I’m still one of them, I’m still on the same level as everyone else.”

The Jimmies finished 21st at the 2022 NAIA nationals with the team sending four swimmers and one diver to the competition. The highest-finishing Jimmie was Shorter, who finished fourth in the 1-meter diving competition.

“Finishing fourth drives me a lot this year because I know what kind of competition I will be going up against,” Shorter said. “I also think I have a very good chance at winning this season.”

While Mallery admits he is still learning about his athlete's strengths and weaknesses in and out of the pool, he wants to see freshman Laurel Knox and sophomore Sulinke Van De Berg have breakout seasons. Mallery said he will adjust the game plan for Van De Berg and push her into the more medium-distance and sprint races rather than longer-distance races.

“I think we’ve got a really strong distance swimmer in Laurel Knox but I can’t typecast her as just distance because she’s strong in the 50 (meter) all the way through the mile,” Mallery said. “I expect that she is going to have a great breakout year and Sulinke, who is returning from South Africa, she made consolation finals at nationals last year and I’m excited to see her break into the top eight this year.”

Kiecker said she wants to see improvement from the team’s five freshmen and the team to take steps forward.

“I’ve seen quite a lot of improvement from everyone already and I expect a lot more, especially from the freshmen,” Kiecker said. “There is a lot of raw potential in many of the girls that hasn’t been tapped into yet. I believe the improvements will start to show as early as this upcoming meet this weekend.”

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Craig Mallery, coach for the University of Jamestown's swimming and diving team gives some instruction to Laurel Knox during a practice Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

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My name is Max O'Neill. I am a Sports Reporter at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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