Wheaton’s Swimming and Diving Teams had huge success at the NEWMAC meet with many swimmers clocking in at personal best times. Jenna Hayden ’18 was named the NEWMAC swimmer of the year, the team’s head coach Barrett Roberts ’07 was named NEWMAC coach of the year and the men’s team collectively had a fourth place finish, which ties for the best in the program’s history.
The Lyons have had building success over the past few years due to, according to many swimmers, the team’s chemistry. “If you weren’t [with us] you don’t understand what the most impressive thing about what the team was,” coach Roberts said. “It was just all weekend long: the energy level, the camaraderie, the support for each other. I think that’s what we do better than anyone and that’s why we swim really fast.”
Hayden won the NEWMAC championship in the 100-yard backstroke (56.16) and the 100-yard freestyle (51.88). She was even crowned as “NEWMAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year,” the first female Wheaton student to receive this honor. Hayden was excited to perform well at NEWMACs: “I had many goals for myself for this year’s NEWMACs, some personal but also some team. I was aiming for best times in my swims… I have never been more proud to be a member of our team, as I was this year.”
However, Hayden said her success is due to her team. “All my success would have to be because of my teammates and coaches,” she said. “We are known for being the loudest, most spirited team on the pool deck, which only pushes all of us to perform at our best.”
While much of the success this year has come from building the team’s culture and enthusiasm, the team has trained slightly differently. “There’s been more of an emphasis on weight lifting and dry-land training than there has in years past,” said Assistant Coach Benjamin Chalot, who attributed the training change to Assistant Coach Nicole Carter ’02.
Chalot said he agreed that the team’s collective leadership and culture is a main reason for its success. “[It] was a conscious decision that Barrett made a couple of years ago to eliminate team captains; he didn’t want the leadership of the team to fall on one or two individuals,” Chalot said. “He wanted everyone to feel like they could take a leadership role on the team.”
While the coaches said they expect the success to continue next year, they also said the seniors will be sorely missed. “To be honest, our senior class had as much, if not more, to do with [our success] than our coaching staff,” coach Roberts said.
Meanwhile, Hayden will prepare for the nationals meet, but not without using her teammates as motivation. “[I want to] let the Wheaton community know how much talent there is on our team,” Hayden said. “I hope to enjoy myself at nationals and make the rest of my team proud.”