Eastern swimmers lose on Senior Night


Kevin Hall

Freshman Nicole Beringer competes in the women 400 yard Medley relay Friday at the Padovan Pool. Both the men’s and women’s swim teams ended their season Friday in St. Louis.

Sean Hastings, Staff Reporter

The Eastern swim team lost to Saint Louis University as seniors Katie VanHootegem and Nikki Peck swam in their final home regular season meet at Podovan Pool.

Family and friends were there to support the two seniors as they were honored prior to the meet for their 4-year career at Eastern.

VanHootegem and Peck are both from Galesburg. and have been swimming together since they were 10 years old.

“Tonight was simply amazing,” VanHootegem said. “I had so many people come out to support me and I cannot begin to thank them enough. I really could not have asked for a better team, they made my night so special”

She was able to get a career best time in the women’s 400-yard medley relay while also competing in the 100-yard free style.

Peck said she felt the same way as VanHootegem on her special night.

“It was a great feeling having my teammates and family supporting me on this special night,” Peck said.

During the intermission, just Peck and VanHootegem had a final senior swim together. Both swimmers said how great it was to have with one another.

“Having Katie by my side these past four years has been wonderful,” Peck said. I’m glad we got to finish our swimming careers together. Having our special race together was so much fun.”

After being teammates for four years and having swam together for half of their lives, VanHootegem said it was just great to be in the pool with her for the final time at Eastern.

“Having the senior swim with Nikki was really great,” VanHootegem said. “It was a really great way to end swimming with her. She is not only my teammate but my best friend.”

Despite the losses, Eastern’s first year head coach Jacqueline Michalski said she was pleased with how things went overall.

“There was a lot of good energy here, we had a lot of people from across campus,” Michalski said. “A lot of the different sport teams came, so that was a lot of fun.”

Michalski said she was happy with how supportive everyone was and how everyone was able to have fun.

She said she was glad to see some of the swimmers get season best times especially being the last meet of the season.

“It’s great that we’re swimming this fast close to the end,” She said. “It just means that were going to go even faster at the end.”

The only two first place finishers for the Panthers were both freshman.

Freshman Amy Smith won the women’s 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:09.30. Freshman men’s swimmer Ashton Pollick won the men’s 200-yard butterfly.

The Panthers are off till February 18 when they head to Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis for the conference meet.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].