Lindsey Settlemire, Staff Writer

Florida Southern’s Men and Women’s swim teams made a splash at the Sunshine State Conference Championships Feb. 18-21. Both teams came out on top claiming the conference title.

“I think this is just a special group of kids,” said head coach Mike Blum. “We have six senior women, and five senior men, so it’s special for them to go out on top.”

This was the fourth consecutive conference championship for the men. Senior Jesus Marin has been with the team for three out of the four wins.

“It feels amazing,” Marin said. “We went through a tough battle against really good teams, but we were prepared for the meet and we just battled and fought a lot and got the results we wanted.”

While the men celebrated their fourth conference win, the women celebrated their first in school history.

“The guys have won four years in a row and we always come up short so it was really nice to win this year all together,” senior Kelsey Gouge said.

Gouge credits positive energy and teamwork for the women’s success this season.

“We made it a point all year to count on each other rather than swimming individually, and I think that’s really what helped us out in the end,” Gouge said.

The men’s team was trailing the first place team by 15 points with three events left in the meet on the final day, but the Mocs pulled out the victory with a 49-point win over second place Nova Southeastern.

“The last day, we were really tired we just wanted to win and that was what drove us,” Marin said .

Although this is Blum’s seventh year with the Moccasins, it is his first as head coach. Blum says being the head coach for this year made the championship a little more special.

“Putting my own plan in place and seeing it take action and being successful is always a good thing,” Blum said.

The reception from the team has also been a positive one. According to Gouge, Blum has done a great job transitioning from an assistant to a head coach.

“The team’s just getting better with him as head coach,” Gouge said.

The Moc’s next challenge is the four-day NCAA Division II National Finals. Blum said the team is right back in the water.

“It’s just cleaning up some details we think we can be better in and then we’ll see if we can race a little tougher when we get there,” Blum said .

The swimmers, however, have a more relaxed approach heading into the national meet.

“I think this year we’re just gonna focus on having fun ‘cause that’s when we swim the best,” Gouge said.

The Mocs will be sending at total of 16 swimmers, eight from the men as well as eight from the women. The NCAA Division II National Finals will be held March 9 – 12.