This article originally appeared in The South End's Winter 2019 Back to School print edition.
Success in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is hard to gain, and tougher to hold on to, making the accomplishments of the women Warriors swim and dive team all the sweeter.
Wayne State women’s swim and dive won the GLIAC championship seven consecutive years — from 2010 to 2016 — and 10 times in the past 11 years.
Sean Peters, who is in his 22nd season as the women’s swim and dive head coach, said the process of keeping the team at the top of its game is always changing.
“My program is always evolving. The things that I did just 11 years ago are so different,” Peters said. “While things have changed so dramatically, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the high standards that we expect from our swimmers.”
Peters — who is a 10-time GLIAC women’s Coach of the Year — said when the team brings in prospective athletes for recruiting visits, coaches and team members have a conversation with the prospects so they can understand the program’s culture.
“On their recruiting visits, we talk to them and tell them about our culture, and (we tell them) if you buy in, you can be very successful,” Peters said.
Sophomore Allison Lennig, who is in her first year with the team after transferring from Youngstown State University, said WSU’s winning culture sticks out.
“We are a team in and out of the water, we practice way more technique here,” Lennig said. “We’re here to win and you can tell immediately.”
WSU’s conference dominance has also led to success at the NCAA Championships.
The team has 11 top 10 finishes in its last 12 NCAA Championship appearances and most notably, won the NCAA Division II Championship in 2012 — the last time any WSU team won a national title.
Junior Aliza Durack said current WSU swimmers feel an obligation to uphold the level of success that the team has built throughout the years.
“With all of the success here we feel like it’s on our shoulders to carry out the legacy of the program,” Durack said.
Durack said the team’s schedule can be hectic and challenging at first, but gets easier as members of the team find a routine that suits them best.
“It’s definitely a challenge. We have practice early in the morning then class, and we got to find time to eat. It’s a crazy day,” Durack said. “It was hard my freshman year. It was a lot of different things being thrown at you at once, but eventually you develop a system that works for you.”
Sports teams commonly preach the one-meet-at-a-time approach, but that isn’t how the Warriors see it.
“We actually do the opposite. Our meets now are preparing us for February for the GLIAC championships,” Peters said.
Many people don’t know how competitive and intense college swimming is, Lennig said.
“One of the best parts of the meets is when the teams cheer each other on the side,” Lennig said. “I think that’s what makes our sport unique. Everyone should come to the Matthaei and see for themselves.”
Warriors women’s swim and dive team will host its final meet of the season against the University of Findlay on Jan. 19 at the Matthaei Natatorium.