New look for Mansfield swimming
A lot has changed this year for the Mansfield women's swimming team.
While there are some new faces in the pool, the biggest change is the person coaching the team as Kaymee Kelly takes the reins this year."
As she took over just before practices were set to begin, Kelly knew it would be a little bit of an adjustment at first.
"It's a little different, it took a little time, but I think they are all working hard," Kelly said.
For the swimmers this is a bit of a change.
"It's an adjustment, not a bad adjustment, it's definitely positive, but it's an adjustment," Lindsey Gregg said.
"We are seeing a real positive change," Katie McFadden said. "She pushes you to make you better."
And, even for newcomers like Cherie Walters and Anastasia Joswick this is a bit of a change.
"It'd different, this isn't the person who recruited me, so it's a little different," Walters said.
Right from the start Kelly, who herself helped Clarion to the PSAC Championships in 2004 and 2006, has set some big goals for this Mansfield program.
"We want to be in the upper half of the PSAC," she said. "I think this school has a lot to offer. I think we can be successful, we have to work at it."
For the swimmers going from a male coach to a female coach, and one who is closer to their age is something they think helps them.
"She's pretty much fresh out of college, we can look up to her easily," McFadden said.
"It's easier to relate to a woman," Gregg said. "There's nothing wrong with having a man as a coach, but it is easier to relate to a woman coach. With her being so fresh out of college and coaching she knows all the new techniques. The techniques change so quickly in this sport and she knows them all."
And because she swam in the league, the swimmers believe that will help her with figuring out what it takes to compete as a team.
"She swam at Clarion, that's pretty much a comparable school," McFadden said. "She knows what it takes to be good."
"It's just easy to communicate with her, easy to connect with her because of her age," Joswick said. "With where she swam, her experiences are almost the same as what we are going through."
And, having swam in the conference is something that Kelly believes gives her a good understanding of what it takes to succeed at Mansfield.
While Kelly learns this first year, it's swimmers like Gregg and McFadden who are ready to do what it takes to assist her.
"All the returning swimmers are really good at helping out," Walters said.
Right now, Kelly is trying to work with the Mountaineers roster, trying to figure out what events best suit swimmers.
"Some have their straight events, for some others we are moving them around," Kelly said. "It's definitely trial and error."
For the swimmers it takes some getting used to, but they know it will help them find their role.
"One meet I swim the 50 free and the next one I swim the 1000," Joswick said. "It makes me a more well rounded swimmer."
And, right now the results are starting to show that things are beginning to work.
"They are dropping a lot of time,' Kelly said. "They are a good group, they work hard."
And they have some goals for this first year.
"We should have some PSAC qualifiers," Kelly said. "I expect them to improve each meet. Our goal is to keep getting better."
One of the things that all the girls see is that Kelly is determined to build up the Mansfield roster. To get the numbers to match up with the teams they compete against.
This year the Mansfield roster lists 12 swimmers, by comparison Kelly's alma mater Clarion has 26 swimmers on the women's team.
With that much of a disadvantage on roster size, the swimmers know they need to be nearly perfect just to compete in meets.
"It makes it that much harder," McFadden said. "It's a lot of pressure to have to win because we don't have a lot of people to get those second, third, and fourth places."
And, the smaller roster also often means swimmers doing a ton of events, and not being able to be rested and focused on their best events.
"It would be really nice to have a lot of depth on the team and be able to find what our best events are and just swim that," Joswick said.
While the swimmers hope that the future includes a bigger roster that allows them to compete against the best teams in the conference, right now they have some goals for this year.
"I want to try and break the school record in the breast stroke and make it to PSACs," Walters said.
"I want to be able to make PSAC's and have everyone do their best," Gregg added.
"I want to make PSACs and I'm aiming for the 200 and 500," McFadden said.
"I just want to swim, I want to work to get better and be a big contributor for the next four years," Joswick said.
Gregg is just one of two seniors on the team, so the younger swimmers are all excited about what the rest of their careers hold.
"It's a lot different from last year, everyone really wants to be here this year," McFadden said. "It's really exciting."
For Gregg, this is a lot like high school with a coaching change late in her career, but she's excited to see the program continue to improve, even after she leaves.
"It's not that different for me, I had a new coach my last year in high school and now I get a new coach my last year in college," she said. "I'm really excited to come back and watch them all get better and see how much the team improves."