This article originally appeared on ZU News.
Last year, APU swim and dive sent one swimmer and one diver to the NCAA National Championships. This year, head coach Tim Kyle looks to send three swimmers and two divers to the championships at the end of the season.
“We have a talented bunch of girls that all work very hard,” Kyle said. “We’re gonna stick together and keep working hard and see what we can do.”
This is Kyle’s fifth year coaching swim and dive at APU, and he said he has seen improvements in the team since he started.
“We keep building the program, getting a little stronger every year,” Kyle said. “I’m really looking forward to some exciting swims this year. I think we probably have the most talented group that we’ve had so far.”
Sophomore swimmer Abigail Wiet represented the team at the championships last year, and looks to return this year with better times in all of her events. She races in the 100 meter backstroke, the 200 meter backstroke, the 200 meter individual medley, and the 400 IM.
“The end of the season went really well,” Wiet said. “I dropped a bunch of time and I wasn’t expecting that.”
Wiet finished 9th in the nation in the 200 backstroke and 11th in the 400 IM at the NCAA championships last year. She scored enough points by herself to place the Cougars’ swim team 31st in the nation.
“I trained during the whole summer with my club team back in Ohio,” Wiet said. “I knew that last year my breaststroke was probably my worst stroke so I really trained on that a lot.”
Wiet’s said her goal for the year is to make the NCAA championships again, but this time as an “A” cut instead of a “B.” An “A” cut is anywhere from just over a second to 50 seconds faster than a “B” cut depending on the event.
“I think the team looks really strong this year,” Wiet said. “We have a lot of people from last year that are coming up this year, and we have some transfers that are really good. I’m really confident with how the team looks going into the season.”
The team is also led by junior swimmer Rosalee Mire Santa Ana. Santa Ana is the Cougars’ top distance swimmer, leading the team in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle events. She holds the school record for these events, and had three top four finishes at the Pacific Coast Swimming Conference (PCSC) championships last year.
For swim, the Cougars could also potentially send senior captain Heidi Zuniga, juniors Alyse Darnall and Tamara Miler and sophomore Rachel Wesko to the NCAA championships.
Both Miler and Wesko are first-year transfers at APU. Wesko came from Liberty University and Miler came from Monroe Community College in New York where she won six NJCAA championships.
Competing alongside the swim team, the APU diving team is led by junior Kianna Mourer who won PCSC diving titles for the 1 meter and 3 meter dives in the past two years. She also made it to the NCAA championships both years, finishing a personal best 13th in the 1 meter dive her freshmen year.
“I’m working on developing a stronger list of dives for my 3 meter. Hopefully, if I’m able to get those dives, there will be extra points that will come from the greater degree of difficulty, then I’ll be able to compete at nationals,” Mourer said. “I’m excited for traveling meets, when we get to go to Santa Cruz and grow closer with the swim team.”
Sophomore diver Rachel Johns is also expected to go to nationals after practicing this summer at a diving camp. As a freshman last year, she qualified for the NCAA Diving Championships in Indianapolis, IN.
The swim and dive team begins their season on Friday, Oct. 7 through Saturday, Oct. 8 at the PCSC Relays and Pentathlon before heading out to the Malibu Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 15.