A decade of dominance has struck Keene State College.
The KSC women’s swim and dive team won their tenth consecutive Little East Conference Championship on Saturday, Jan. 30.
Sophomore swimmer Hope Walsh was the most successful Owl on the day, winning three different events.
First, Walsh won the 1,600 freestyle in dominant fashion. Walsh’s time was not only the fastest of her collegiate career, but it also broke the UMass-Dartmouth pool record.
Walsh also took home first place in the 200 backstroke and the 500 freestyle.
However, Walsh wasn’t the only Owl to make headlines, as senior Katherine Brady’s time in the 200 butterfly broke an LEC record.
The Owls won the meet with a total of 625.5 points, and won every event individually besides diving. Eastern Connecticut State University came in second place with 313 points and UMass-Dartmouth finished third with 179.5 points.
When asked how it felt to see the team accomplish such a significant achievement, Walsh simply said, “It was pretty awesome.”
Being Walsh’s first LEC competition, she said she was unsure how everything would play out. Coming into KSC, however, Walsh said she knew of the legacy the swim team carries.
“We get a lot of support from the school and that’s really important,” Walsh said. “When I applied to Keene I knew before I got here the good reputation the swim team had and I think it [the ten year success] has a lot to do with the people that they bring in.”
Senior Captain Corinna Nickerson said it felt cool to be a part of such a historic milestone.
“It was just a really good feeling to know that our hard work really does pay off,” Nickerson said.
Nickerson won both of the breaststroke titles at the event, which was hosted by UMass Dartmouth.
With Nickerson seeing four years worth of swimmers from different backgrounds circulate through the team, she said that every year you never know if the team will carry the same depth as past years.
“Every year we don’t know if we are going to win the same meets but I feel like the training always in the end is what pays off,” Nickerson said. “We got a new coach this year and everybody didn’t know how this season was going to work out because of it, but we realized that a big part of our training is ourself. Yes, the coach is a huge part, but our motivation and our drive come from within us.”
Assistant Coach of the KSC Swim and Dive Team Diana Pimer has been able to stick around to see the success continue.
Pimer graduated from KSC in 2015 and was a member of four LEC championship swim and dive teams.
“This win was really special because it was our tenth,” Pimer said. “From my perspective, I knew the alumni that started it that won at the beginning. I was a part of it in the middle, and then to coach for the tenth year was really cool.”
Walsh, Nickerson and Pimer all had different takes on what makes the women’s swim and dive program so successful. Pimer thinks the team’s training methods make the biggest difference.
“We train differently than a lot of Division III schools, and the women especially take a lot of pride in that,” Pimer said. “That commitment and then the pride they have in doing that is definitely why we have been so successful.”
Nickerson said that she thinks part of the reason the team is successful is because of the leadership dynamic. According to Nickerson, as members of the team get older and move up each year, they become more active with helping other team members.
“You kind of fulfill that leadership role as you grow up,” Nickerson said.
The women’s swim and dive team have had extreme success, and are prepared to conquer what is next in store for them.
Crae Messer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at email@example.com