FAIRBANKS-Head coach Scott Lemley and the Nanooks swim team are all about finishing in the top three of the Pacific Swiming and Diving Conference this season after finishing in the bottom half last year. They want to send at least five swimmers to the NCAA championships as well. Those are some ambitious goals for the program but Lemley feels his team is highly motivated.
"Well they like to train and that's the biggest thing. Training is what brings success," Lemley said. "We definitely have some big team goals this year."
11 returner, two freshmen, and a transfer from Arizona make up the team. The lone senior on the team is the team captain Bente Heller. Last year Heller won the NCAA title in the 100 backstroke, an event she never trained for. Her championship was the first national title in program history.
"Last year was a great year for me just in general but I want to improve in my freestyles and my backstrokes. I actually want to train for the backstroke and see what I can do with that. This year is just going to be my last year. I'm going to make the best out of it and see what happens," Heller said.
Junior Margot Adams, the repeat national runner-up in the 100 fly, has her younger sister Victoria on the team. Victoria won swimmer of the meet in the Blue and Gold Penthalon earlier this month. She was three events and had the lowest total time after five events.
"It was a lot of fun. I wasn't really expecting anything out of it. I just got in the pool and raced and it was a lot of fun," Adams said.
Fellow freshman, Kathryn Pound, endured a 20 hour trip from New Zealand to swim for Lemley. Why?
"I really like his coaching philosophy so I thought Alaska was the best fit out of all of the universities. The team's really cool. We're all really close, really good friends so it's good. I like that," Pound said.
She's ready for her first Alaskan winter too.
"I've ordered my coat and boots so I'm ready for winter to hit. It was supposed to hit last week but I'm just ready for the winters and some different experiences."
The team hosts conference foe Biola in their first meet of the season this Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at noon in the Patty Center Pool.