DetroitOctober 30, 2013
Wayne State swimming, diving programs to go in search of more titles
By Mark Vest
C & G Staff Writer
Wayne State swimmer Kayla Scott is pictured, alongside Director of Athletics Rob Fournier, receiving her 2013 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship ring. Scott was part of the women’s team that won a Division II national championship in 2012.
Winning conference championships has become pretty commonplace for the Wayne State University men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs in recent years.
Since 2003, Wayne State has won a combined total of 15 conference titles, which includes a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) championship in each of the last three seasons, for both the men’s and women’s squads.
And as impressive as those conference championships may be, the women’s team accomplished a first in program history by winning a Division II national championship in 2012.
After experiencing what it is like to be part of a national championship program, head coach Sean Peters would like to have more of where that came from.
“To win (the) national championship, especially by one point, was a crowning achievement for the women’s team but something now that we’ve tasted it, we want to go after that title once again,” he said. “The goal is to be the last team announced at (the) NCAA Division II nationals. When each program is the last team announced, you know you’ve made it — you know you’ve won both. That’s something very few teams get to experience, and I would welcome that experience.”
Aside from being an individual national champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, senior Kayla Scott (Rochester Adams High School) was part of the national championship team during her sophomore year. In her estimation, winning a national title has raised the standard for the program.
“From my freshman year to where we are now, I think the program has grown immensely,” she said. “Every year, we’ve reached new goals and grown as a whole. I think winning nationals our sophomore year raised the bar of the team. Even though we didn’t win nationals last year, the fact that we were still nationals runner-up, I think where the program stands today — we’re an elite Division II program. Where we are right now, I’m very happy and excited to be a part of it.”
Peters has been at the helm since 1997, and over the course of the years, Wayne State’s program has become a contender in the Division II ranks. Peters offered some thoughts as to what has helped put the Warriors in the kind of position they are in.
“First off, you can only be as successful as the support you are given as a program,” he said. “Rob Fournier, our athletics director, is extremely supportive. He wants to win. He has that vision for Wayne State athletics, where we’re successful at everything we take on, whether it’s the field of play, academics (or) reaching out to the community. We strive for excellence (in) all areas.
“Also, I have been blessed with some fantastic student-athletes. Not only great swimmers or divers in the pool, but great leaders out of the pool.”
While winning titles is typically considered a major plus for a program, it can also mean getting the best opponents have to offer. But from Peters’ perspective, any extra attention Wayne State may draw from opponents leagues due to its success over the years is something that should be embraced.
“We’ve come to not only accept that, but almost embrace it,” he said. “If they’re looking to come at us, regardless of the program, you know you’ve done very well for yourself as a program. Our program has done a fantastic job. I embrace those kind of challenges.”
While Peters can’t be sure of exactly what will happen going forward, his evaluation as to the current state of Wayne State’s swimming and diving program should make Warriors fans pretty happy.
“I think we’re one of the best Division II programs in the Midwest and a formidable opponent at the national level,” he said. “I think our diving program, if it’s not the best diving program in the country, it’s top two. I think Wayne State swimming (and) diving as a collective unit is a dangerous program. We’re capable of doing great things at the championship season.”
Aside from success in the pool, Wayne State’s programs each have a cumulative grade point average of over 3.0.
Wayne State University has also had NCAA Division II record-holders for short-course races. Andrey Seryy holds the men’s record in the 50 free (19.39), 100 free (42.61) and 200 free (1:35.05). Piotr Jachowicz holds the record in the 200 IM (1:44.82) and 400 IM (3:47.62).
Sara Franklin is a record-holder in the 100 back (52.90), while Ana Gonzalez Pena set a record in the 200 breast (2:12.89).
In 2011, Wayne State’s 200 medley relay team Sara Franklin, Ana Gonzalez Pena, Ana Azambuja and Ashley Corriveau, and the 2011 women’s 400 medley relay team of Franklin, Pena, Agata Zalewska and Azambuja also set records.
The GLIAC championship is scheduled to take place from Feb. 12-15, with the NCAA championships scheduled for March 12-15. The GLIAC and NCAA championships are scheduled to take place in Geneva, Ohio.