FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas men’s and women’s swimming and diving alums, ranging from the 1971 to 2014 graduating class, returned to the Arkansas pool deck for a friendly competition Friday afternoon in the Arkansas Natatorium.
The meet opened with the 200 medley relay and featured ten open events, giving the returning alums an opportunity to shake off the rust in multiple strokes. More than 30 Arkansas alums returned to the Natatorium either competing or supporting their former teammates on the pool deck.
“I’m actually overly impressed with how many alumni came out, women and men,” said head coach Sean Schimmel. “I was extremely impressed with some of the racing the alumni were doing. They certainly had some championship finishes and got their hands on the wall.”
The alumni meet recognized fifteen Arkansas men’s swimming and diving alums, almost 20 years after the last season of the men’s program.
A standout from the men’s side, 1981 graduate and five-time All-American Jerry Spencer says the meet supplied an opportunity for him to see old teammates and support the current Razorbacks.
“It’s great to come back,” said Spencer. “It’s great to get reconnected with the program. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. The swim team was wonderful and very supportive of us old guys and encouraged us to come back and race with them. We had a lot of guys that came from around the world and it’s really fun to get reconnected with guys that live in Houston, Connecticut and New Jersey, and they’ve all come together just to reconnect with the teammates. Good to see them, good to get caught up.”
Even for more recent graduates like Jillienne Schilling (2012) the competition was a chance for her to catch up with the friends she made as a Razorback.
“These are your best friends,” said Schilling. “You come to college and get an instant group of friends that you spend all your time with. So seeing them is like seeing family.”
On the diving side, 2008 graduate Hannah Mertz joined current divers Hannah Bortnick, Shelby Cox and Shelby Bartlett. The divers competed on both the one and three-meter boards, a task that surprisingly came right back for Mertz.
“It’s like riding a bike,” said Mertz. “Yeah, I’m a little rusty but you kind of know what to do, you’re aware of your body and you’re always going to have that. I’m a little out of shape but it flooded lots of great memories. During my time here it was really wonderful. I had a great coach and great teammates. Nothing but great memories.”
The Razorbacks will head to Atlanta, Georgia for a mid-season tune-up at the Georgia Tech Invitational on Nov. 20-22.
For more information on Arkansas swimming and diving, follow @RazorbackSD.