Photo Courtesy of Viking Athletics
BLSA President, Taurean Shattuck, said the group hopes to add trophies to this collection after the convention.
Swimming team prepares for Horizon League Tournament
With the Horizon League title up for grabs, the Cleveland State Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams will compete in the Horizon League Tournament at Flames Natatorium in Chicago from Feb. 22 to Feb. 25.
Paul Graham, the head coach for both men’s and women’s teams, has coached swimming and diving collegiately since 1994 when he started in the sport at places such as Wright State University and The University of Ashland. This is Graham’s third season as head coach at Cleveland State University.
“I feel very confident about the team’s chances going into the tournament because it’s a process day in and day out,” Graham said. “The dedication and job of swimming fast in practice shows up in practice, and I know it’ll show up in the Horizon League Tournament.”
To help prepare, the team went to Puerto Rico earlier in the year to have a good experience of swimming and diving. The event, self-funded by the students, took place during winter break so the team had more time to practice and self-evaluate.
The team also met at Ohio State University earlier in February, which kick started the final stretch of the season.
“This stretch of the year is like Christmas for coaches and clubs because it kicks off our title meet season,” Graham said. “Everyone on the roster gets excited for this particular event since we get busy right at that time with important matchups, hence the title meet season.”
Senior Phillip Sikatski is the program’s top swimmer, setting numerous school records for his times as well as earning First Team All American in the butterfly stroke. Among other seniors in the men’s league, Sikatski will graduate in the spring, while the women’s team is younger and is focused more on rebuilding.
“It’s going to be tough to move on from [Sitkatski], as no one can replace him,” Graham said. “But while we do lose a lot, we’re also looking forward to the future.”
Graham’s confidence in his swimmers to deliver for the challeneges of the tournament is strong, but he’s more proud of the team’s commitment out of the pool than in it.
“Our program has done a terrific job of leading by example,” Graham said. “That helps us with recruitment and going into this tournament.”
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