It has been another storybook season for both the men and women’s swim and dive team.
Now in his 16th season as head coach, Al Boelk has led another remarkable year for the Pointers. The men’s swimming and diving team grabbed the conference championship for the 15th consecutive season.
The women finished fourth in the conference championship and will have five swimmers competing in the national championship.
Leading the way for the Pointers is junior Amanda Walker who is in her first year at UWSP. Walker had come off of an injury prior to the season, but was not holding anything back this year.
“Coming into Stevens Point, I didn’t have any goals at all. It was definitely a lot of hard work but the team made it a lot more enjoyable with their support. It made it a lot easier for me,” Walker said.
Walker had huge success in the conference meet this past weekend, setting the conference record in the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle. She will represent the Pointers in those two events, along with the 1,650-yard freestyle and will be in the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
Boelk has been very impressed with Walker’s impact, not only with her accomplishments in the pool, but as a leader.
“She took up the leadership role almost immediately. I would say she is one of our strongest leaders, men or women on this team,” Boelk said. “I think anyone training near her would be ashamed to give less than 101 percent just because they watch what she’s doing.”
Joining Walker for the 200-yard freestyle relay will be sophomore Emily Nienhaus, senior Amy Boritzke, and sophomore Alexa Pronga. Swimming the 400-yard freestyle will be Walker, Pronga, Nienhaus, and sophomore Gemma Pillsbury.
The 400-yard freestyle record was broken in the conference meet, which has been a season long goal for the Pointers.
“We’ve been talking about it for so long, about how cool it would be if we added our names to that record board,” Pronga said. “Going into it, we just put our heads together in the huddle and said ‘alright guys, we can do this.’ We all stepped up and did what we had to do to get it and that was the most exciting thing.”
When asked about the improvements that have been made within the team, Pillsbury felt the motivation to break this record was with them from the beginning of the season.
“We’re so much stronger than last year. We’ve had this goal in our mind that since the beginning that we wanted to be here,” Pillsbury said. “That determination paid off. There’s no way we could’ve ended the meet better. That was a great ending.”
With the focus moving from conference to nationals, Boelk has established two key components for the Pointers participating in the events.
“My hopes are that we can stay healthy from now until then and that we can have fun during the process.” Boelk said.
The Pointers expect to leave their mark at nationals and enjoy every moment of it.
“We’re really excited. We have a really good chance, when we get there, to do great things,” Pronga said.
The NCAA Championships is from March 19-22 in Indianapolis, Ind.