The Missouri State swimming team lost a lot of point scorers in May’s graduating senior class. Now, the team looks to the underclassmen to keep the tradition alive.
On the women’s side, Missouri State graduated a solid class, but it wasn’t a large one.
“The senior class is irreplaceable,” senior Sarah Allegri said. “With that being said, we have a lot of really talented juniors and underclassmen. I have no doubt that they will step up and fill the gaps the seniors left.”
Head coach Dave Collins said he thinks they’ve done a good job of replacing the point production in recruiting. While it looks good on paper, he’s excited to see what happens when the freshmen begin to practice and compete.
“Honestly, this year kind of exceeded the expectations we had,” Collins said. “Moving forward, we can build off that. I think we’ve got some really good underclassmen.”
Allegri said the incoming class will make an excellent addition to the team, and she can’t wait to begin swimming with them.
Missouri State graduated almost half of the team on the men’s side of things, including two All-Americans.
Collins said he has a great group of returning athletes, and because of what the senior class did for the program, he’s able to recruit better athletes than he was a few years ago.
“I hate the word rebuilding, because I don’t think that a good program with a good history and tradition should ever use the word rebuilding,” Collins said. “I prefer reloading. We’re gonna have a brand new team. It’ll be a fun, exciting project because we’ll have to find an identity pretty quick and see what kind of leadership emerges.”
Collins said it’s important to him that his athletes don’t think about the trophy at the end of the season or judge a season’s success based on the conference meet. While they want to perform well at conference, Collins said that is not the most important thing to the swim team.
The swim team puts their focus on short-term goals and setting daily and weekly routines.
Collins said he would rather have his athletes focus on being great teammates and not worrying so much about results or times.
“People that have focused on making those around them better has ended up coming back around and helping them improve,” Collins said. “Looking long-term can overwhelm an athlete in this long season.”
Because Collins is able to coach his athletes all year long, he tries to keep things interesting to keep spirits high, especially during the summer competition season. Whether that’s getting out of the area, going to outdoor meets or swimming at open-water events, Collins likes to change things up and get creative.
Collins said this upcoming season is a big one, because it’s the last “hoorah” before Olympic trials next summer.
In 2012, Missouri State sent one swimmer to the trials meet, and in 2016, they had four representatives. Collins is looking to continue to build the representation.
“We’re very optimistic that we’re going to have some athletes qualify,” Collins said. “Those cuts continue to get faster, but athletes continue to get faster.”
Allegri is excited for her last collegiate “hoorah” as well.
“I am so happy that I get one more year with my teammates and coaches,” Allegri said. “Hopefully we can carry on the success our team has had in the past.”