New Swim Team Dives In
Reported by Jen Wright
With the first week of official practices behind them, the first George Fox University (GFU) swim team is excited for their inaugural competitive swim season.
The new team, coached by Natalie Turner and Jason Hunter, has 29 swimmers total, ranging in class from freshmen to seniors. GFU’s first swim meet is Oct. 26, against Willamette University.
Aside from Whitworth College, GFU is the only Christian college in the Pacific Northwest to offer swimming as a competitive sport. Turner brings swimming and coaching experience, but this is her first time coaching college swimming.
“I don’t know any other coaches who have been able to start a brand-new team, from the ground up, build a culture from the ground up, recruit swimmers that they think are going to bring a lot to the team, from the very beginning of the program,” said Turner.
“Starting a team from scratch requires creating a culture within the team, setting a culture for future years. We want this to be a family aspect, so we get to start that since it’s the first year and we get to establish what it looks like to be a teammate, which is really fun,” said Grace Ferguson, one of two seniors on the team.
One team goal is to beat two teams in conference competitions, “which is a realistic shot for us, since it’s our first year,” said Ferguson.
Freshman Gabby Wood was recruited to the team and is looking forward to the first meet.
“I just think it’s kind of funny, like, ‘oh, yeah, whoever’s in the first heat, first event, has a record,’” said Wood. Wood’s personal goal for this season is the make a personal best time in her best event, the 100 breaststroke.
“I think I can do it. Since we’re doing so much training, I can definitely see it happening,” Wood said.
For some of the team members, preparation for this swim season started in the Fall of 2017. “Year zero” was full of practices but no competition.
“This whole last year was a lot of praying for patience and waiting for things to get started.The swimmers can feel down and get exhausted fast, and need encouragement. My goal as a coach is to always be lifting them up, to always be reminding them of a greater purpose than what they’re doing in the water,” said Tuner.
One of the things that drew Turner to GFU was that it was a Christian college, as she got her degree at Whitworth, a Christian college in Washington.
“Getting the opportunity to get back into having faith be a part of my swimming was a huge motivator for me to come here. This year, the goal for our team is to represent GFU and represent Christ in everything that we do,” said Turner.
Turner wants the swimmers to enjoy their time on the team and just have fun this season.
“Whether it’s the end of a season or the end of four years in college, I want my swimmers to always leave just having loved their experience,” she said.