|Building continues for BG swimming|
|Written by JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 25 February 2014 10:42|
The building continues for Petra Martin, now in her fourth season as the head swimming coach at Bowling Green State University.
The Falcons swim in the Mid-American Conference championships starting Thursday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva.
Bowling Green, competing without a diving team, was third in the MAC last season. It was BG's best finish at the MAC since 2004 when the Falcons were also third. BG's best finish in the last two decades was a second in 1993.
''It has definitely been a journey. I kind of had to rework the whole culture of the program, and change things around. That obviously takes some time,'' Martin said. ''The first few years were definitely tough, implementing all of those changes, and getting the young women on board. It's the way we train, the way we approach things, how we want them to think, how we want them to practice.''
Martin said things started to come together last year, and the progress has continued this season even with a young team.
''They are a very talented group. They come here because they bought into what we were selling, and our philosophy of doing things,'' Martin said.
''The culture thing if you don't keep an eye on it, it's very easy to slip back to bad habits,'' she added.
This season, BG was 6-3 in dual meets, winning five straight duals to close out the season. The Falcons are ranked No. 50 in the country by CollegeSwimming.com.
There are three seniors on the team this season - Brittany Szekely, Joelle Scheps, who is in her second year with the Falcons, and fifth-year senior Emily Waller.
Szekely is from Missoula, Mont., but her father, Peter, is from Bowling Green, and her aunt, Andrea, is a former BGSU swimming record-holder and a member of the BGSU athletics hall of fame.
''Brittany has a lot of legacy here at this school, Martin said. ''She treats the team as a family.''
Szekely is 7-1 this season in the 50 freestyle.
Scheps attended Eindhoven Technical University in The Netherlands, before transferring to Bowling Green.
''Her love of swimming, what she wants to achieve spreads across (the team). She wants a lot more, and you can see it,'' Martin said.
Waller was redshirted as a sophomore because of a shoulder injury. She was a second-team All-MAC selection last season.
''She's a great leader, very outspoken ... and she scores a lot of points for us. She's a great person to have on the team,'' Martin said.
Freshman Victoria Griffin has made an immediate impact for the Falcons, earning MAC swimmer of the week honors four times. She is 7-0 in both the 100 and 200 freestyles.
''I don't think it was a surprise; I knew that she was going to be good,'' Martin said. ''What attracted her here is that we are a family, that we are doing things as a team.
''She still has things that need to get better. She's a freshman; a work in progress'' Martin added. ''Her first semester was very difficult ... It has been much better for her in the second semester.''
The Falcons currently have 12 scholarships for swimmers, and will have some additional aid when diving is added to the program next season. Swimmers can also receive academic aid.
''We want to make sure they graduate in four years, and get the job that they want or get into graduate school,'' Martin said.
There are 32 points available in diving.
'It will be a great situation, because now we have the swimming program where it's strong and very competitive and add that other component to it,'' Martin said and diving. ''It's going to take a little bit of time to build that up.
''It is going to be a very good marriage for us.''
Also Martin is excited about the renovation project of Cooper Pool, including tiling of the deck and installation of a video board.
''We're excited about being able to have home meets again next year,'' Martin said, adding the team has had good fan support for their meets, all of which have been on the road.
Martin added being on the road all season could work to BG's advantage at the MAC championships.
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