By Nicole Skow

swim_jumps_Ben

The Nevada swimming and dive team had their first loss on the season last Saturday against the UC Davis Aggies. The Pack lost by two points in the final race of the meet. Benjamin Hirsch/Nevada Sagebrush

In a storybook-style meet, two unbeaten teams would take the pool against each other, ruining one of the other’s seasons.  There was no perfect ending for Nevada as it was sent to a 2-1 record.

This past Saturday, Nevada’s swim team raced its final laps in home water before heading on the road for the rest of the season.  Taking on the University of California, Davis Aggies, the Pack looked to go 3-0 at home, but Davis held on for the win.

The Aggies racked up the points early, but the Wolf Pack refused to back down.  It clawed its way out of a nearly 30-point deficit to shrink the gap to 11 points.

After sweeping the final individual event, Nevada looked to capitalize with the relay.  After finishing first and third, swimmers and fans alike waited with baited breath to see if it would be enough for the Pack to steal the win from the Aggies.  Unfortunately, it was not enough and Davis outlasted Nevada, 149-151.

Head coach Abby Steketee knew that even if the team won that final relay, it would not be enough; the girls needed to finish first and second in order to take the meet.  Despite the loss, she found a silver lining in it all.

“The important thing was not the two points, but that our girls fought all the way through the meet,” she said.  “There were points in the meet that the score was so one-sided that it would be easy to just sit down and give up.  To take one, two and three in the last individual event and win the last relay, that matters more to me than those two points.  (It shows) that our girls will fight through anything.”

This may have been Nevada’s final home meet of the season, but for the seniors of the team, it was their final time competing in the pool they spend so much time in.  For seniors Rachel O’Connor and Leslie Foley, their final meet at home was a joy due to the fans that came and stuck around to the end.

“I don’t think it has quite hit yet because we have so many more meets to come,” O’Connor said. “It was nice seeing how many fans we had and how many people we had out to support us.  I feel like the seniors are really close, and so it was nice to have that support of each other.”

“The support was amazing,” Foley said.  “The stands were filled and we never have that.  It’s just great to end on a great note because our team’s doing so well in our last year, and to see the team do so well in our last season: that’s awesome.”

Nevada swimmer Leslie Foley performs the backstroke at the meet last Saturday. The standout from the meet was sophomore Yawen Li who won three events in the duel meet against UC Davis. Benjamin Hirsch /Nevada Sagebrush

Nevada swimmer Leslie Foley performs the backstroke at the meet last Saturday. The standout from the meet was sophomore Yawen Li who won three events in the duel meet against UC Davis. Benjamin Hirsch /Nevada Sagebrush

After Saturday’s home performance, the Pack will be on the road for at least six weeks as they take on the likes of the University of New Mexico, San Jose State University and University of California, Santa Barbara among others.  These next meets are important, but Steketee has her eyes zeroed in on the Mountain West Conference Championships that will take place six weeks from now.

“Both physically and mentally, we keep the focus on the Mountain West Conference Championships, so we don’t rest until then,” she said.  “The in-season meets are not about winning the meet; it’s about doing our best technically in our different events, having really good cohesive energy with the girls, and it’s about tenacity.”

Being gone for six weekends does not faze O’Connor or Foley.  For O’Connor, she views it as “another step (the team) has to take” in order to reach Championships.  Foley knows that the team will be more tired, and that they won’t have as much time for homework, but she thinks that’s the fun part of athletics.  O’Connor echoed her fellow swimmer’s claims as she talks about the joys of going on the road.

“Some of the best stories are on the bus, what was said or what happened,” O’Connor said.  “When we room if we have to spend the night, you can bond with someone even if it’s just for the night. You get to know someone better.”

As the team moves forward with the season, Steketee looks to see the team reach its full potential. She subscribes to John Wooden’s philosophy of success being based on if you reached your full potential.  She believes that the girls are on their way of completing this goal.

“They train with focus, with a lot of passion, with a lot of determination,” she said.  “I think that they will go best times at conference.  Last year we were fifth at conference, I think we will take a step forward (even with San Jose joining the conference).”

Nevada’s next meet will be two weekends from now where they will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take part in a quad-meet against the New Mexico Lobos, the Wyoming Cowgirls and the Grand Canyon State Antelopes.

Nicole Skow can be reached at sports@nevadasagebrush.com.