UJ swimming and diving head to post-season competition – Jamestown Sun
JAMESTOWN — Coming home was a fantastic decision for Courtnay Kiecker and the Jamestown University women’s swimming and diving team.
“I enjoyed every minute and I’m so glad I made the decision to come back to Jamestown,” Kiecker said.
Kiecker and Keelie Renwick, both former swimmers for Ben Smith and the Jamestown High School swim and dive team, are two of 13 members of Jamestown University’s first-ever swim and dive team.
The Jimmies are coming off the regular season with a 124-86 double win over Concordia College (Minnesota) on Jan. 22. The Jimmies are scheduled to participate in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Meet Feb. 3-5 in Fremont, Nebraska.
Kiecker, a Jimmies junior, graduated from Jamestown High School in 2018 and went on to swim at the University of Mary during her freshman and sophomore seasons. After taking a year off in 2020-21, Kiecker returned to UJ to complete her swimming and college career.
For this gap year, Kiecker said she was training partly on her own and partly with the JAWS swim team in Jamestown. Getting back into college swimming shape after a year off was certainly a challenge, but she said she was used to the practice and intensity required to get into competitive shape.
Kiecker said she expected this very first swimming season to be tough. The combined workouts at the start of a program with a group of girls, all freshmen with different swimming backgrounds who wanted to participate in making the Jimmies program happen, proved difficult to navigate, but Kiecker said she thought the team did an amazing job overall.
“I’ve really enjoyed this season,” Kiecker said. “Because we are such a small team compared to our competitors, we all had to compete in events that we wouldn’t usually swim in. The ability to swim races that I’m not very comfortable with is definitely a area in which I personally grew up.
“We’ve created a team that I’m personally proud of, and I’m so proud to say I’m part of the Jimmie Swim and Dive team.”
The Jimmies began their program in mid-October. Kiecker said the Jimmies’ versatility and ability to outrun anyone in any race made them a threat. Kiecker came to UJ as a freestyle and backstroke sprinter, and now she primarily swims mid-distance freestyle, backstroke and IM.
UJ racked up three double wins and placed in the top three at the Roger Ahlman Invitational in early December.
“I think one of the biggest strengths we have as a team is our determination,” Renwick said. “We’re a small team that’s brand new, but we never let the fact that bigger, more experienced teams run against us.”
Renwick was one of the Jimmies’ first signings late last fall. Heading into her freshman year and the on-campus program, Renwick said she wasn’t sure what to expect. In an effort to prepare, she participated in the Blue Jay bodybuilding program to stay in shape before the start of workouts.
“I swam for JHS in high school (but) high school swimming is definitely very different from college swimming,” Renwick said. “The only thing I expected was to have to work, and it certainly met my expectations.”
During regular season practices, Kiecker said the Jimmies swim three to four miles each practice. Heading into the KCAC meet, Kiecker said the Jimmies switched to “tapered” workouts, where swimmers reduce the distance covered during practice. The team now covers about one to two miles each practice. Kiecker said the team is also working on tweaking things like starts, turns and stint swaps so they can perform at their best in the conference.
“As far as the playoffs go, our main goals are to qualify more girls for Nationals and to really bring UJ swimming and diving to the KCAC conference,” Kiecker said. “We’ve qualified three out of five stints for Nationals, so we’re focusing on Nationals times in the last two.”
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championships will be held in Columbus, Ga., March 2-5.
“We plan to show up and swim fast at the conference and put UJ on everyone’s radar,” Keicker said.
The Jimmies qualified the 400 and 800 m freestyle relays and the 200 m medley relay for national competition. During the conference, the Jimmies will work to bring the 200 freestyle and 400 medley relays to Georgia as well.
Getting two more teams of swimmers won’t be easy — but easy hasn’t been the name of the Jimmies’ game this year.
Jimmie’s former head coach Alex Raasch left the program midway through the season, leaving graduate assistant Harrison Baden to take over for the Jimmies.
“Our interim head coach, Coach Harrison, has done a fantastic job stepping into the role of head coach,” Kiecker said. “He has high expectations for us and really pushed us in training.
“Having such a significant change in our coaching staff so late in the season was definitely a shock, but we’ve had so much support from the athletic department, especially our strength and conditioning coach, Coach Emily , and our athletic trainer, Shelby. . we are also very proud of Jimmie and proud to represent Jamestown University when we compete.”