The Augustana swim and dive teams face many new changes this year, starting with men’s swimming and women’s diving, as this year is the start of both programs this fall.
Six years ago, women’s swimming became a sport on campus and athletes began to compete for the Vikings. This year, men’s swimming and women’s diving begins the expansion for the sport.
Fourteen freshmen and one sophomore make up the first men’s swim team at Augie. One of these newcomers is freshman is Aeson Akins.
With a background in competitive club swimming, he was excited when coach Lindsie Micko reached out to him and asked about his Next College Student Athlete times.
So, Akins looked into Augustana.
“It checked off all of the boxes I wanted,” he said. “The climate was close to Colorado, where I’m from.”
Additionally, he looked toward the women’s swim team and their statistics.
“I thought the women’s team was very successful, so I figured that with starting a men’s team, we would have that same amount of success,” Akins said.
He was also impressed with Micko upon meeting her, attributing her skills as a coach and as a person.
When Akins started swimming for Augustana, he noticed a difference in training from his time swimming for club teams, including the intensity and frequency of workouts. The team practices six days a week with two practices a day Monday
These practices get the team ready for meets, where the men’s team is competing for the first time in Augustana’s history.
“It’s definitely really weird to hop in the pool and know that you’re automatically going to set a record just because you’re the only one swimming that event,” Akins said. “In upcoming years, the team is hoping to expand, but the start of the season has been an exciting one, and men’s swimming is going to set the record right.”
In addition to the men’s swim team, a women’s dive team is also competing this year for the first time. The new team consists of one full-time diver and one diver and swimmer who splits her time between the two sports.
Sky Anderson is the team’s full-time diver, and she has a background in club diving. She was looking to continue her sport while in college.
“The opportunity to be a school’s first diver is a very rare thing to come by,” Anderson said.
She explained that seeing Augie was helpful for her, and she enjoyed everyone’s enthusiasm over the opportunity to have a diver for the school.
As the only full-time diver, Anderson is the only individual at her morning practices along with her coach, Shelby Bartlett, who is the team’s assistant coach. She said training is hard with 10 to 12 practices a week, but it has helped her progress and learn new skills.
Anderson describes how diving skills are not necessarily the most important part of the sport, as it is crucial that one is mentally prepared as well.
“While my skills are getting better, my relationship with the sport has increased a ton, which pays off too,” Anderson said.
Though Anderson does not practice with the women’s swim team, she said that the team goes out of their way to make her feel just as important and a part of the team as anyone else.
She also travels with the swim team for meets and is excited for the progression of this year’s season.
“I am just looking forward to doing my thing, like going out and diving and showing up,” she said.
In upcoming years, the women’s dive team is looking to expand, and a men’s dive team is on the horizon as well.
The two teams are currently a combined 6-14 on the year. They recently traveled to Colorado for a quad invite and the two teams went 3-7.