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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student


Seniors continue IU swim success

With six national championships, 29 Big Ten team titles, 101 Olympians and 674 All-Americas, the IU swimming and diving teams continue a tradition of winning.

This year, the IU women’s swimming team is no exception. However, it’s success outside the pool has the most lasting effects.

When the current seniors were freshmen, they were a part of a team that finished second at the Big Ten Championships and 13th in the country. They knew changes needed to be made.

“Three years ago, the chemistry wasn’t where it needed to be,” IU Coach Ray Looze said. “We didn’t really have everybody pulling in the same direction. As freshmen, I think they saw one thing and wanted to do something different.”

Stephanie Armstrong, Brenna MacLean, Bronwyn Paslowski and Lindsay Vrooman, later joined by Kait Flederbach, formed the class of 2014.

They all agreed IU immediately felt like home.

“There aren’t many places that the first time you go somewhere you can already call it home,” Armstrong said. “It just felt like the right atmosphere for me, completely.”

The senior class has gradually fixed what didn’t seem quite right throughout the past few years. They’ve turned an individual sport into a team sport, which Paslowski said has been crucial to the team’s success.

“It takes more than yourself to achieve something,” she said. “Over the past couple years, everyone here has become really close — both the women’s team and the men’s team. I think that’s had a lot to do with a lot of our success.”

Looze said among the many qualities of great leaders his seniors posses is an unmatched work ethic.

Flederbach said this year is different from the others because it has been about enjoying daily practice while always working hard.

As mentors, the senior class made sure that this mentality was passed down to the younger swimmers as well.

“For a lot of us freshmen, coming in we were shaken up a little bit,” freshman Claudia Di Capua said. “Especially during those hard practices, they were the ones to speak up and get us going again. They keep us motivated.”

Their hard work has been met with success. Senior Lindsay Vrooman was last year’s Big Ten Swimmer of the Year.

Vrooman also holds the IU pool record in the 1,650-yard freestyle event. She, along with MacLean and Paslowski, all qualified for individual events at the NCAA Championships as juniors.

Maclean, Paslowski and Vrooman, as well as junior Dorina Szekeres, are captains this season. Looze said it’s important to have leaders who accept accountability and always do the right thing.

“So much happens outside of your control as a coach,” Looze said. “We’re held responsible for everything now more so than ever before. You’ve got to have great leadership so that the team does good things when no one is watching.”

With all the senior class has given to the swimming program, they may have just as much to take away from their experience.

“I’ve really learned how to not just swim for yourself, but for people you care about — and take what you learned in the pool and apply it to your life,” Flederbach said.

The seniors have brought together a team from four countries, nine states and four provinces.

Looze said he hopes future teams can follow their lead.

“Chemistry. It’s an intangible thing, but I think it’s what separates champions from teams who just fall short,” he said. “It’s the rarest thing in sports.”

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