The men’s and women’s swimming teams left the NCAA Division II Swimming Championships in Birmingham, AL, with the best finishes in their respective histories.
The men’s team finished as the national runner up, while the women’s team finished sixth in the country.
Despite the impressive finishes, fourth-year head coach Duncan Sherrard was slightly disappointed with the result. Sherrard believes the men’s team could have come closer to the National Champion, Drury University.
“We were happy to get second,” Sherrard said. “It’s our highest finish ever and national runner up is great, but we could’ve done more at that meet.”
The women’s team, which also earned its best finish in school history by placing sixth, could have finished in the top three if things had gone a little differently, according to Sherrard.
“I know we could’ve done better if some different things had happened,” Sherrard said, “Again, we’re happy. It was our highest finish and we had Alli [Crenshaw] win two national championships, so that’s awesome, but we just knew there was more out there so that part is a little disappointing.”
Sherrard said that both the men’s and women’s teams were hurt by some “up-and-down swims” on days two and three of the meet. In the past, FSC swimmers have swam well all four days of the NCAA meet, making this year’s inconsistent performance tough for him to understand.
“As a coach, I don’t know, because in past NCAA meets we’ve swam well all four days and gotten stronger every day. That’s what we train to do,” Sherrard said. “This year was just—as a coach, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around it and I haven’t quite grasped why or how we didn’t perform up to par those middle two days.”
The fact that the coach is left wanting more from teams that just finished second and sixth in the nation, respectively, demonstrates just how far the program has come over the past four years. In Sherrard’s first year at FSC, the men’s team finished the NCAA meet in the number-14 slot while the women’s team finished as the number-32 team in the country.
Sherrard had high praise for the group of seniors that have been present throughout the program’s transformation, calling them “the godfathers of the program.”
“It’s a very special senior class both on the men’s side and the women’s side,” Sherrard said. “They’re a class that I will remember for the rest of my coaching career because they have built the foundation for this program and where we’re moving.”
Before the current senior class was recruited, the men’s and women’s teams had a total of zero NCAA qualifiers between them. Now, both programs are legitimate national title contenders.
According to Sherrard, both programs have a lot to look forward to, but the future is especially bright for the women’s team.
“We’ve worked really hard to build our women’s program,” Sherrard said. “We’ve put the men in a position to contend for a national title and now we’re trying to do that with the women. I’m really excited about our women’s program for the next couple of years.”
For now, both teams begin training again as they continue to work toward the ultimate goal of a national championship in 2014.