The Keene State College swim team had an impressive debut to their season on October 21, 2017. The Owls hosted Franklin Pierce University, St. Michael’s College and Colby-Sawyer College, and 14 out of 16 events went to the Owls in their dominant season opener.
KSC senior Hope Walsh helped lead the Owls to victory, winning both the 1,000 and 500-meter freestyle.
KSC junior Katie Brandeberry helped earn four wins for KSC, winning the 100 backstroke, and the 100 freestyle. Brandeberry also took part in the 400-meter free relay and the 200-meter medley relay.
Walsh said the Owls were more than ready to get in the pool after a long training season. She said after training twice a day nearly every day for the past weeks it was time to “show everyone what I can do,” and said the whole team felt the same way.
Walsh said the meet was longer than usual because they had to face more than one school. But she said the team had prepared for the extra length and came out ready which helped them to be successful. Walsh also said this year’s swim team is very close and that everyone is always cheering each other on.
The men’s swim team also had a very successful season opener.
KSC sophomore Kyle Shadeck led the way for the Owl’s, winning three individual events, as well as taking part in the 200 medley relay.
KSC sophomore Eric King also won three events for the Owls, the 50, 100 and the 200 freestyle.
Walsh said part of this year’s success comes from the rigorous training program that the swimmers stick to. She said the Owl’s coaching staff pushes the team, although they are also understanding of the pressure surrounding student-athletes. Walsh said Head Coach Chris Woolridge has worked hard this season to make sure the athletes are healthy physically and mentally, so they can perform to their fullest potential.
Walsh also said that herself and the other seniors on the team try to lead the way for the younger swimmers. She said it’s about being a good teammate and leading by example. Walsh said that “we’ve been through it, we know the standard,” and because of that, it is important to help show younger athletes how to be successful. She also said that the freshman class has been doing particularly well this year, noting that freshman year is the hardest year.
First-year swimmer Kim Theleen said the transition to college sports has been a “very different experience.” Theleen said that the team was very welcoming however, and she is getting used to the rigorous schedule. Theleen said that her first college meet was a fun experience and made easier by the coaching staff. She added that Coach Woolridge helped her relax before her first race and told her that they were “just going to see where she’s at and go from there,” which helped to take some of the pressure off.
Theleen also said that she is not normally a very outgoing person and had a bit of a slow start “getting to know everyone,” but has since gotten acclimated with her new teammates. She said the new training schedule is very hard compared to what she did in high school but knows that it will pay off.
Theleen said the coaching staff has been working hard to get all the swimmers to their best form. She said she’s been focused on improving her form and getting faster. Theleen also said that the whole team is looking forward to the meet against Roger-Williams University, which was postponed to January earlier this year.
Unfortunately Coach Chris Woolridge was unavailable to comment on the teams start to the season, but has high praise from his athletes.