Written by Student Assistant Sarah Cornell-Maier
TACOMA, Wash. – After a wildly successful opening to the season, the Pacific Lutheran University men's and women's swimming teams head into the weekend looking to maintain its momentum as they open the home portion of the Northwest Conference dual meet slate. The Lutes host Willamette University on Friday night before swimming against Linfield College on Saturday.
Even though the season has just begun, the Lutes have already asserted dominance in the water, winning both the Northwest Conference Relays and Sprints along with bringing home wins against Pacific University and Lewis & Clark College.
Early season success is always a great motivator for the Lutes, and junior Bryson Baligad of the PLU men's team thinks it will get them to February.
"Winning our first dual meets of the season really gave us momentum heading into the upcoming weeks and the rest of the season," said Baligad. "We have a long way to go but I feel that we're on the right track to performing at our best in February."
In the meet at Pacific University, two Lutes competed up to the wire in the 50-yard freestyle. Senior Dennis Liu and Baligad were separated by just over one-tenth of a second, with Ballad coming out on top.
"It's always fun to race one of your teammates, especially when you know they're some of your biggest competition," said Baligad. "Dennis and I talked about the race afterward and joked about how we were only about a tenth of a second apart. I love the relationship I have with my teammates, because we can transition from being competitors to teammates in an instant."
With a season already filled with victory, swimmers like junior Taylor Bingea are proving their worth on the PLU women's team.
"Having early season victories really boosts the teams confidence and gets us pumped for what the rest of the season has to offer," said Bingea. "With these wins we also feel that it is important to realize that we are going to have to work hard to earn our victories this season."
The Lutes have won their meets this season with high scores, and part of that comes from the depth of the PLU roster.
"Knowing that I am so close time-wise to my teammates makes me feel lucky that I have good training partners that are going to push me to get better," said Bingea.
The Lutes are looking for a comeback season, where they can prove yet again that they are the dominant force in the Northwest Conference. The PLU women won NWC titles in 2014, 2015, and 2016, before finishing runner-up last year.
Bingea is definitely excited for the rest of the season for the team.
"I am excited to potentially send individuals and relays to NCAAs," she said. "I am also excited to see how our team will perform at the Conference Champions, hopefully both our men's and women's team coming on top."
The Lutes take on Willamette at the PLU pool on Friday at 6 p.m., and continue to compete on Saturday against Linfield at 1 p.m.