Ashland University's men's and women's swimming and diving teams are set for their final home dual of the year on Friday (Jan. 18).
The Eagles will take on Malone and Urbana in the 4 p.m. tri-meet, and they have just two more meets after that on the road in the month of January. February will serve in majority as a training month for Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, beginning Feb. 20.
Even the last three duals for Ashland will be used to train for conference championships.
"We're talking about using these last few meets as an education and learning process for what we need to do for the GLIAC championships," said Ashland head swimming and diving coach Ron Allen. "We're doing the fine-tuning going into conference championships, whether it's pushing the pacing a little bit more or backing off the pacing a little bit more depending on the person and working on one or two technical keys in each race. That's really what we are looking for.
"A lot of kids get hung up on times. I'm not too worried about times, I just want them to focus on the key one or two things to help them swim fast at the end of the season."
Friday's meet will be the last time the seniors in Ashland's program will be able to swim competitively in the friendly confines of Messerly Natatorium.
"A lot of emotions going on right now. Even in practices, the kids are talking about last time for this, last time for that," said Allen. "Showing the underclassmen what it's like to be an Eagle swimmer has been instrumental."
Ashland is coming off a home weekend where it beat three of four teams at home.
"Our distance crew is looking pretty good, and we have some key standouts in certain stroke specialties," said Allen. "We have to get our sprinters going a little bit more, but in general, it was a successful weekend."
The Eagles won 17 of 26 events on Jan. 11, and six of 26 on Jan. 12, followed by 10 more second-place finishes.
One freshman standout, Franci Aleksi, swept all four men's distance events this past weekend and has been a mainstay winning distance events for the Eagles this season.
"He's been showing everybody especially as far as meets go, exactly what it takes to perform really well," said Allen.
Another distance standout for the Eagles was sophomore Tara Stevens, who won three of four distance events on the women's side this past weekend.
"Our entire distance crew has been swimming really hard in practice and pushing each other. I'm very excited to see how they swim at the end of the year, because I think they're going to be really tough," said Allen.