Butler swimming team kicks off Big East Championships

The women’s swimming team competes in a meet last season. The Bulldogs are set to compete in the Big East Championships this week in New York. Collegian file photo.

HENRY BREDEMEIER | STAFF REPORTER | hbredeme@butler.edu 

The Butler women’s swimming team is in New York today, set to compete in the 2020 Big East Swimming and Diving Championships. The competition runs through Feb. 29 at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, New York.  

Butler will face off against Georgetown, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence and Villanova.

This season, the Bulldogs are led by Annah Van Gheem, who finished ninth in the 100-yard butterfly in last year’s Big East Championship. Head coach Maurice Stewart said he is very happy with how the season has played out so far.

“From the beginning of the season until now, they have really come together as a unified team,” Stewart said. “The team culture has been very positive, the work ethic has been very, very strong and they’ve prepared themselves well to have a great end of the season Big East Conference Championship.”

In the 2019 Championships, Butler finished fifth of six teams with 232 points, ahead of Providence. Villanova won last year’s Championships with 1007.5 points. Butler was at a disadvantage, however, because they were one of two teams who did not compete with a diving team. The Bulldogs face the same situation again this year.

Stewart said the team’s goals are not necessarily to win the meet, instead the focus is on continued improvement at the individual and team level. 

“We want to post a lot of personal bests from all our student athletes, beat Providence for the third straight year and try to close the gap on Seton Hall and Georgetown,” Stewart said. “Really just try and have a fun meet.”

For senior captain Natalie Rohweder, the fun and comradery are her favorite parts about being part of the team. 

“It’s a family,” Rohweder said. “You could be in a room completely silent with them and still be content, or you could be talking and be loud and obnoxious and have the best team. It’s awesome.”

Rohweder starts prelims tomorrow for the 200-yard Individual Medley Bonus. She will also compete in the 100-yard breaststroke on Thursday and the 200-yard breaststroke on Friday. Rohweder’s teammate and co-captain Madison Himler explained how it’s just as fun to be out of the pool than in it during this meet.

“We all go around the pool and cheer on whoever is in the water, whether they are having a good swim or a bad one,” Himler said. “We try to be the loudest in the building.”

Himler starts off her competition today in the prelims for the 50-yard freestyle. She will also compete in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle.

Swimmers are allowed to compete in no more than three individual events, provided that they meet the 2020 Big East qualifying standards for the event. Stewart explained that the swimmers choose the events they feel they have the best chance in to make it to the final swim.

To qualify for the Big East Championships, a swimmer must meet the Big East qualifying time at some point in the season.

This meet will wrap up the swimming career for seven seniors and one graduating junior. Coach Stewart is thankful for their contribution to the program. 

“It’s been awesome,” Stewart said. “It’s been great over the last four years getting to know them, developing the relationships, working with them and the most positive thing is watching them grow and mature and become very successful young adults.”

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