USD’s swimming and diving teams had their 2019-20 season come to an early end due to COVID-19, but the team made their return to the pool Saturday for an intrasquad meet to kick off the new season.
The Red vs. White intrasquad meet held in the DakotaDome pool was live-streamed for parents and fans to watch, and for swimmers like senior Cooper Fuchs it was their first action since the season ended in March.
“I didn’t swim over the summer or lift at all because the gyms and pools back home are closed,” Fuchs said. “So, coming back here in August and really starting to get into the groove of the 20 hours a week training sessions. It was a little difficult at first but I think have adapted well to it and just trying to get better every day.”
Fuchs was a member of the white team and placed second in the 50-meter freestyle. Fuchs was also the anchor leg of the relay team that won the men’s 200-meter medley relay. Fuchs said there is a little different feel to the intrasquad competition compared to a meet against other teams.
“You know, personally, the people that you’re racing, and you kind of know how they train after training with them for quite a while,” Fuchs said. “So, planning out race strategy is a big thing, especially going into these meets where you know how these people race. That’s huge but I’m excited to hopefully soon get back into competition with schools within our conference.”
Junior Meghan Atwell competed on the Red team Saturday and was a part of two team relay victories and an individual title in the 100-meter breaststroke. Atwell said it was nice to have something to look forward to and compete in.
“Even though it was just against my own teammates it was nice to be able to have a feeling of some kind of structure because right now as athletes, we don’t have a lot to look forward to,” Atwell said. “So it was exciting and gave us something to look forward to and actually enjoy doing.”
As a senior, Fuchs said he looks forward to making to most of the season ahead, and he wants to make the most of the season while he is still a member of the swim team.
“It’s my last year so really ultimately I’m just trying to have fun with it,” Fuchs said. “At the end of the day times are gonna be times. I’m really just trying to have fun with the team. With this being my last year, enjoying the family dynamic that we have here at USD. And I think once I realized to have fun with the sport the times will come through hard work.”
The men’s and women’s swim teams are chasing after Denver. The USD men have finished runner-up to Denver each of the last three seasons while the women placed runner-up for the second straight year.
“Our coaches are really pushing on making sure we’re focusing on detail,” Atwell said. “I mean, six years ago we were getting last second to last in the conference and now we have gotten second two years in a row on the women’s side, three years on the men’s side second right behind Denver, so becoming more of a detail-oriented team is going to give us that little extra push that we need to actually close that gap.”
Fuchs said he and the rest of the seniors this year hope to continue to make strides towards cutting the deficit between them and Denver, and they look to lead by example.
“Being the first one in the water, last one out of the water, not complaining during any of the sets just kind of putting your head down, putting in the work,” Fuchs said. “Leading by example through that. And in the classroom as well, being a good student on top of that. So really just trying to be a good role model for the underclassmen.”
The next competition on the schedule for USD is the USD Extravaganza Nov. 19-21 in Sioux Falls. The Coyotes host Iowa Central Community College, Omaha and South Dakota State in January, as well as the Coyote Invite in Sioux Falls.
The Summit League Championships are held in Fargo Feb. 18-20.