Eastern swim teams head into final stretch of season

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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After finishing the first half of the season posting faster times than usual, the Eastern swim team is now preparing for the last half of the season, including the Summit League Conference meet.

The men currently hold a record a record of 1-5 and the women are 2-5. Both have a chance to improve on those records this weekend when the Panthers host instate rivals Western and Butler.

The women were able to get a win against the Leathernecks in the first meet of the season at the Illinois Invitational, but the men were unable to do the same.

Despite the losing records, coach Jacqueline Michalski said she was very happy with how the first half of the season went especially with all of the adjustments that were needed.

“It went really well,” Michalski said. “I couldn’t be more happy especially with all the changes and the new things. Our grades were really good and we swam probably the fastest the team has swam in a long time at our mid season invite, so that set us up real good for the second half.”

The Panthers will be taking on Western, Butler, Valparaiso and Saint Louis in the next four meets before the start of conference Feb. 17.

Growth has always been something the Panthers have looked to do, and it is evident that the team has grown since last season. Michalski, who is in her second year as coach, and assistant coach Meghan Cotugno, who is in her first year at Eastern, have grown as well.

“I think I’ve gotten better at knowing all of my athletes and knowing how to train them because I’ve spent more time with them,” Michalski said.

Michalski and Cotugno knew each other before uniting at Eastern. Michalski coached Cotugno for two years at Saint Francis in Pennsylvania.

Cotugno was in California club coaching before coming to Eastern, and had told Michalski she was looking to coach at the collegiate level. Michalski told her to come check out Eastern while also earning her masters.

Michalski said she was looking for someone to coach at the level that former assistant coach Rachel McGrath; Cotugno does just that. The head coach added that Cotugno has helped in the growing process of the team.

Michalski also complemented the success of the swimmers in the classroom. For the freshman, last semester was a first look at the intense life of a swimmer and life of a college student. The team trains 20 hours a week.

While most of the students were relaxing for three weeks, the team continued to train on their own and even came back early to get back to their normal training, but also were able to see their friends and family back home.

“They went home to see their family. It’s really important to spend time with your family and friends, and I wanted to make sure they got that,” Michalski said. “They have come back with such a better attitude and mind set.”

Most of the swimmers were able to go back to their club teams and high school teams, and still kept up with their training.

The time off allowed the swimmers who were dealing with sicknesses or injuries to get back and get back to full strength.

With the season winding down, it is time for the Panthers to have some more intense practice with a lot more focus, Michalski said.

“I’m spending a lot more time writing practices and making sure the coaches and the swimmers, we’re not just here, but were making sure we’re here with the right purpose,” Michalski said.

The Panthers will host Western and Butler on Saturday at Padovan Pool 6 p.m. Saturday.


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