Occidental senior swimmers rely on each other

Jennifer Keane

The Occidental men’s and women’s swimming and diving team hosted its senior day meet Feb. 4, where they secured a win against Whittier. On senior swim day, the team celebrates the completion of the seniors’ careers. It serves to honor the commitment, time and effort that the students have put in for four years. David Avery*, Rose Seabrook, Maddie Dimarco, Erin Van Zanten and Ellie O’Brien are the five swimmers left in a class that began with 10–15 people. According to team members, the graduating seniors have formed a family-like bond.

“I feel like a mama bird looking over the nest,” Avery said.

Seabrook is a part of Up til Dawn, Kappa Alpha Theta and has completed five internships one of which was with Vivienne Woods, a major fashion label. Avery completed two Senior Comprehensive Project classes while swimming last semester, and this semester has taken on a staff writer position at The Occidental Weekly. Dimarco is a tour guide captain, was an O-Team leader and served on Kappa Alpha Theta’s Executive Committee for two years. Van Zanten has interned at a physical therapy clinic, done research in the kinesiology department and works for Scientific Scholars Achievement Program. O’Brien is an e-Board member for the Impact Fund, double-majoring in math and economics and was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

“We’ve made it an environment that is supportive of not just what we’re doing in swimming, but in academics and extra-curriculars,” Dimarco said.

Although team members are used to balancing athletics, academics and extracurriculars, their time at Occidental has provided them with a new challenge: over the past four years, the team has worked with three different coaches. The initial readjustment periods with each new coach were the most difficult, because swimmers had to get used to new coaching techniques all over again, and people prefer different styles, Van Zanten explained.

The swimmers were able to keep their morale up. O’Brien noted that different strengths from each coach are bound to stick with swimmers.

Several of the seniors noted that Head Coach Steve Webb appears to be a more stable coach and figurehead for the team. They predict that he will play a positive role in the swimming careers of first-year swimmers. Nonetheless, the lack of consistent leadership has taught the team to be self-reliant.

The seniors are confident going into the SCIAC championship meet Feb 15. Between Webb’s guidance and the team’s overall improvement in performances, expectations are high for the small team of 34. Dimarco explained that although the team does not have as many swimmers as they once did, they still have the top level talent necessary to win.

The seniors themselves have shown the leadership necessary for success, frequently offering advice for younger competitors.

“Stick with it … there is a difference between completing three and four years and what it feels like,” Avery said.

The senior day win marked a bittersweet moment for Occidental’s seniors. But with the SCIAC championships drawing nearer, the five veterans are looking forward to the chance to extend their careers long enough to qualify for the Division III national tournament in March.

*David Avery is a staff writer at The Occidental Weekly.

Have a sports tip? Email us at weekly@oxy.edu or tweet us @OxyWeekly.