January 28, 2020 | SPORTS | By Tori Matson| Photo by Anil Jergens

While some of us took the full winter break to go ice skating and drink hot chocolate, the Colorado College Swimming and Diving Team was hard at work in the pool, extending both the men’s and women’s perfect competition records.

The team usually takes this break time to go on an intense training trip where they practice and then swim against opponents that they would not normally face in the regular season. 

In the 2019-2020 Swim and Dive season, for example, the team travelled to Key Largo, Fla. where they competed in the Orange Bowl Classic against high-ranking teams like The University of Michigan, Florida International University, Wagner College, and The University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. 

Even though CC didn’t win many events in the Orange Bowl that year, the level of competition they face at meets like that one pushes the team to its full potential. Additionally, it is a fun opportunity for team bonding and chemistry growth, as Kate Brush `23 recounts. 

Like last year, though, the team was not able to go a training trip due to precautions regarding COVID-19 safety. Despite missing this crucial training opportunity, the team’s excellence in the pool over winter break has shown the program’s unrelenting strength and character.

On the women’s side, impressive performances stand out across the board. On the weekend of Jan. 14, in a meet against the Adams State Grizzlies, the CC women’s team toppled the respectable Division 2 program from Alamosa 193-37.

By Anil Jergens

Peyton Classon’s ’23 remarkable performance off the diving boards snatched the Tigers first place in both the one-meter and three-meter dives. The junior from Stillwater, Minn., received victorious scores of 270.45 on the one-meter and 245.95 on the three-meter. This effort earned Classon her second honor as Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s diver of the week.

Classon was not the only Tiger diver to earn weekly conference recognition after the Adams State meet. Teammate Mac O’Brien ’23 received SCAC men’s diver of the week after his outstanding presence off the boards, winning the one-meter with a score of 246.23 and trailing closely behind teammate Aidan Richter ’25 in the three-meter, who scored 233.63. 

Beyond the diving boards, the Tigers had several remarkable individual accomplishments to lift the team well past their Division II competitor.

For the women, senior Key Macfarland locked in two individual wins – the 200-yard freestyle and the individual 200 Individual Medley while also contributing to the 200 freestyle relay.

Brush `23, a junior who won co-MVP her freshman year and collected many All-SCAC honors for individual and relay races throughout her career, proved to be a consistent leader yet again.

Against the Grizzlies, Brush won the individual 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly, while also contributing to the victorious 200-yard freestyle and 400 medley relays. 

Although no destination training trip set the Tigers up for their success, the win still came at an extremely grueling training time for the team. The tough work and build-up to crushing Adams State involved difficult practices – “doubles,” meaning two practices in one day – and long hours in none other than Schlessman Natatorium.

This caliber of preparation pleased Coach Anne Goodman James, who said it was fun to see the team “step up in something outside of their comfort zone.”

Brush shared her excitement about coach James, who was recently named to the Top 100 Swimming Coaches of Last Century; the leader from Greenwich, Conn. was in awe of her coach’s accomplishment, adding the “the amount of swimmers she’s brought to NCAA championships speaks for itself.”

About the team’s performance in their first meet of 2022, Brush is thrilled that their arduous practices over break are “reflected in the teams’ perfect records – everyone has big team and individual goals and it helps when we talk about it together and push each other.”

The men’s swimmers created even more applaudable numbers against the Grizzlies, with seven Tigers winning two events. Topher Shepherd ’23 and Caleb Peimann ’25 each won their individual events and both swam in and won the 200 freestyle relay. Similarly, Jack Hussin ’25 and Jack Higgins ’24 won their separate events and fueled the team’s win in the 400 medley relay. 

Cade Thumann ’22 won the 100-yard freestyle and the 200 IM while Tony Saenz ’24 snagged the 200 backstroke and breaststroke races. Collin Ralston ’25 edged past teammate Step Flanagan ’25 by .02 seconds in the 500. 

Thumann acknowledged the impact of the powerful first years presence on the team’s momentum: “We have some really fast freshmen which adds depth to our team and makes us stronger and more competitive.”

Even without Coach James at the Colorado College Classic this past weekend, Thumann reiterated, the Tigers still blew their opponents out of the water.

“It was weird without Anne,” Thumann said. “But everyone really stepped up to take collective leadership.”

He especially felt as though the captains and seniors took strong initiative with their experience and energy, as well as crucial direction provided by assistant coach and CC alum Mike Heinonen.

It is exciting to see how far the Tigers will go in the playoff season, as they are pumped up with even more optimism and motivation following their hard work and triumphant feats over the break.

Fans will be paying close attention following CC Swimming and Diving’s efforts in the SCAC Championships where their fiercest competitors are the Tigers of Trinity University and the Pirates of Southwestern University. With the morale seen over winter break, hopes are high for a continued perfect record this 2021-2022 season, and maybe even a few championship titles.

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