Wildcat Swimming and Diving to Compete at A-10 Championships
Swimmers and divers from across the Atlantic 10 Conference will gather Wednesday for the start of the 2022 A-10 Championships, and the Davidson Wildcats are ready to go.
The work has been put in, lap after lap and day after day for months. Now it’s time to have some fun and compete.
“It’s pure bliss,” says Owen Corkery, of the days leading up to conference. “It can be easy to lose focus on the end goal during the early parts of the season where it feels like it’s just day after day of hard practices, but once we finally start cutting back a little, the excitement and adrenaline returns, and it’s a very fun atmosphere to be in.”
The four-day A-10 meet, held once again at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, will consist of two sessions each day, beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday with women’s one-meter diving.
“I’m so confident in this team, each and every day,” says Shelby Stanley, last year’s A-10 Most Outstanding Performer. “I’ve never met a harder working group of individuals. Our coaching staff is incredible — they’ve done well beyond what they’re expected to do to prepare us for A-10s. The team has taken every set and executed it to the best of their ability. We’ve been putting up season-bests at our most recent dual meets, so that’s a great predictor of how well prepared we are. I know that we are physically prepared for this meet, so the other teams should expect us to come out swinging.”
Stanley and the Wildcats did come out swinging last April, in a pandemic-delayed championship meet, as the men and women turned in third-place team finishes. That matched the women’s team’s best A-10 finish (2016) and was tops for the men.
Stanley earned seven A-10 medals, including five golds, and twice set the school record in the 100 and 200 fly events, improving on her breakthrough prelim times later in the day.
Siena Senn was another bright spot for the Wildcats at the 2021 meet, repeating as 500 free champion and securing five medals.
In all last year, Davidson won eight A-10 events, with the women adding a win from Abby Francis in the 50 free and also in three relays (200 free, 200 medley and 800 free). The Wildcat men swam out front in the 200 medley relay.
Talk to the Wildcats about where they fit into the A-10 this year, and you get the same response: well-positioned, right there, in the mix.
The competition is heavy, as a fifth year of eligibility for athletes has given some teams even more firepower. And there are numerous top-tier freshmen making waves in the league as well.
“Overall, we are positioned well among a tight field and have continued to build momentum,” says Senn. “With more dual meets over the past six months, these opportunities have allowed us to closely focus on race preparation and execution. I am looking forward to watching each of my teammates swim, especially as the freshmen experience their first championship competition while the seniors finish their athletic careers.”
“I don’t think the team has ever looked better entering A-10s in all my four years here,” adds Corkery.
So what’s the key to success this weekend? The work has been done, and it’s time to go.
“Having fun with it,” says Ian Brann, who set the program record in the 50 free at last year’s A-10 meet. “It’s super easy in a sport like swimming to take everything super seriously, but I think the best thing you can do is stay relaxed and enjoy the moment. After putting in all of the work all year, it’s best to enjoy swimming fast and try to not let your head get in the way. Swimming fast with your friends is what it’s all about.”
Stanley agrees. Given that she hauled home a suitcase full of medals last year, she’s somewhat of an authority on the matter.
Last year, she focused on having fun, and it worked out really well.
“Racing is fun,” she says. “The chemical release of seeing a best time is fun. Winning A-10 medals is fun. Seeing your teammates swim well is fun. Nerves are normal and they’re even important to a good swim, if we don’t let ourselves get caught up in them. Just acknowledging how fortunate we are to be traveling to A-10s once again, how much work we’ve already put into the season and trusting our bodies to get us where we need to be. No matter what happens, it’s hard not to swim fast when you’re having fun and smiling.”