Twice as nice: Olivet Nazarene University sweeps swimming national titles
While his athletes splashed around in celebration, Scott Teeters was asked about wood.
The Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) head swimming and diving coach was talking with Gary Newsome, the school's athletic director, shortly after the program claimed national titles at the NAIA National Championships.
The Tigers had jumped into the pool in Columbus, Ga. with the trophies for a post-meet show of jubilation.
Meanwhile, Newsome asked Teeters if the trophies were made of real wood because he was concerned that the pool water damage them. Teeters said he told Newsome that those trophies were going to spend 20 years on a shelf somewhere, but they were made to be in the water with the athletes at that moment.
“That's the moment that they live for and they work for,” Teeters told the Kankakee Times.
There were no shortage of big moments for the ONU programs during the weekend of March 4-5 at the national championships. The men's team repeated as national champions, while the women's squad won the first national team title for its program, according to the school's athletic website. Also, numerous individual honors were claimed by the Tigers.
The ONU men's team dominated its meet, winning the team title by 215.5 points, blowing by runner-up Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) 658.5-443, according to National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Meanwhile, the ONU women's team had a tougher fight for its crown. The Tigers tipped SCAD 639-632.5 in points.
Individually for the Tiger men, freshman Magnus Poulsen was named the 2017 NAIA Swimmer of the Year with three all-American honors individually and four others on relays, including three individual titles. Daniil Kuzmin had six all-American performances, and Magnus Andersen had five.
For the ONU women, Tiffany Ray, Vanessa VanOost and Amanda Moran each won two individual titles, with Moran also being a part of two relay championships en route to being named the swimmer of the meet. To top off her huge weekend, she set an NAIA record in the 200 backstroke in a time of 1 minute, 56.87 seconds.
“That's a seriously good swim,” Teeters said. “That's a swim that any Division I team in the country would love to have.”
Moran earned eight all-American honors over the weekend, Ray had six and Deidre Gerke had five. The huge weekend in Columbus was built through facing tough competition and having a strong team bond.
Teeters said the Tigers have gone up against several good NCAA Division I programs such as Notre Dame, Northwestern, the University of Illinois-Chicago and Butler. That steeled the Tigers for the national events to come.
“When you do that, you might get beat the first year or two, second year you start to hang, third year you get better, and before you know it, you'd rather go up against the best and see where you're at instead of whip up on the worst and think that you're better than you are and then when you get to the big meet, you're totally out of your comfort zone,” Teeters said.
The ONU men and women also train together, Teeters said, which he said gives the program an advantage over schools with just a women's team. It comes down to each athlete in the programs having faith and being encouraging of one another, the coach said.
During an ONU practice, Teeters said, one would hear an enormous amount of verbal support among the athletes. And the practices are designed to challenge the athletes and never be comfortable, which also helps with team bonding.
“The really cool part, what I'm saying, is what makes it attainable is that it's set up so that you need encouragement from the adult next to you,” Teeters said.
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