Bittersweet. That is the word Rick Rowland, head coach of the California Baptist University swim and dive team, used when discussing the class of 2018 swimmers and divers.
“You’ve watched them develop as students and athletes and maturing into adults as they transition into the next chapter of their life,” Rowland said. “So it is always tough to see them go.”
Christie Halverson, senior nursing major, said she is excited for the underclassmen to compete in the Western Athletic Conference next year, but added she was thankful to swim four years in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
“We have all grown together and we were a really good group,” Halverson said. “It’s just crazy to think it has been four years and our time is up.”
Alexis Ohmar, senior piano performance major, said she has been impressed by the younger athletes and said the team looks prepared for the coming years.
“We made a big improvement this year,” Ohmar said. “We should be ready for next year in the WAC and (NCAA) Division I.”
Rowland, Ohmar and Halverson all said the current seniors have helped lay the foundation for success that will serve the team even after they graduate.
“Both the men’s and women’s teams from this group have won conference titles so they’ve really left their mark,” Rowland said. “Both won titles in the RMAC and left their imprint in Division II swimming and diving as well.”
“We want to try to raise our training up to that level of Division I and compete and be competitive in RMAC,” Halverson said. “Although we won’t be there ourselves, I’m still trying to encourage the women.”
With the postseason approaching, both the Lancer swim and dive teams will have an opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the conference and the division.
“The RMAC is always my goal and the team’s too,” Ohmar said. “And, of course, we are going to try to make top-five in the NCAA this year since we have a really great team.”
Rowland also said collegiate swimming can help prepare these senior athletes for life after college.
“If you can manage time training, swimming and diving, you can keep a strong GPA, and you can have a social life, you can pretty much do anything in life,” Rowland said.
“No doubt when they transition into that next chapter of life. They will attack it with the same energy they had when they competed in their sport.”
When this senior class has graduated, Rowland said the memory of one specific moment from the 2015-2016 season will stick with him.
That year, the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams both won RMAC championships for the first time since the Lancers joined the conference.
“Wow. That was probably one of the most enjoyable memories that I’ve had as a coach in the swimming and diving program-having two teams win a conference title in the same year,” Rowland said. “It’s never happened before.”
The Lancer men trailed the entire event until Ohmar touched the wall in the last leg of the final event, giving the Lancers a victory in that event and a conference title by the slim margin of one point.
The senior Lancers will have one last chance to recreate that moment at this year’s RMAC Swimming and Diving Championships that started Feb. 14.