AU swimming has kicked off its third season in the pool and is looking to take the next step forward this year. Both the men’s and the women’s teams have felt the growing pains of being a young program, but head coach Conner Snare is confident that both squads will continue to improve this season.
“We are seeking constant improvement,” said Snare. “Our first meet won’t be our best meet. Consequently, our last meet should be where we are reaching our goals. I’d like to see us getting personal bests, putting up good times and achieving accolades, but that is secondary to the development of these men and women as people.”
The team has struggled to put together wins due to the small size of AU’s start-up team. This is why Snare chooses to focus more on individual growth for his swimmers rather than team success. Maintaining that growth for two teams can be a challenge, but Snare embraces coaching both groups at the same time.
“The challenge doesn’t necessarily lie in the difference in gender,” said Snare. “It lies in the difference in work ethic and what they can do. With men and women, there are just different body makeups. They may all be swimmers, but the two teams must be coached differently to accommodate these differences.”
The Ravens appear ready to take the next step towards team success this season. They have brought in a large freshman class of 13 men and women to pair with 11 total returning swimmers. Of the 13 freshman, 11 of them are joining the women’s team.
“This season is a game changer for us,” said junior swimmer Emma Maubach. “We have doubled the size of our team with very talented freshmen. I am extremely excited to see how we do as an entire team, being larger than the past two years.”
Sophomore swimmer Kris Keller believes that the men’s team is also ready to take it to the next level. Keller has seen a lot of success early in his AU career, already holding 11 school records.
“Personally, my goals for this season are to make the all-conference team and medal in every event that I swim in,” said Keller. “I also want to be a great teammate in doing these things. The guy’s team this year has some great talent in a lot of different areas. After being third in the conference last year, I’d say that we definitely could improve this season.”
The swimming program at AU is truly a special one because the inaugural class is still on the team. It has also created a great amount of chemistry between all the swimmers, making them feel like a family in a sport that is often considered to be more individually-focused than team-focused.
“Being the first freshman class of AU swimming was purely unimaginable,” said Maubach. “Over my three years, we have truly become a family. As a team, we need each other and we affect each other. I want my teammates to give their all every day as I expect them to want the same from me. We have to hold each other accountable, and with it now being our third year, I think that is something we do really well.”
Even with the addition of so many freshmen, Snare isn’t worried about their chemistry. It is rare for such a small team to easily welcome new members, but none of the members of this team feel like it will be an issue.
“It’s always difficult to welcome new people into the flock, especially in a young program,” said Snare. “But our guys and girls have done a good job of showing the younger swimmers the ropes and bringing them along as equals. We have a lot of freshmen this year, and thankfully, they are pretty mature and want to accomplish the same goal as the rest of our team.”
Last season, the women’s team finished fifth in conference, and the men finished third. Snare doesn’t see that changing this year and thinks that his teams are capable of climbing even higher. The women’s team has also been on the Academic All-American list each semester since the inception of the program.
The teams kicked off their season earlier this month and will continue competing into the new year through February.