A historic season

NMU swimming and diving has 4 All-American award winners

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University swimming and diving team finished a historic season last week, bringing home hardware and accomplishments the program hasn’t seen in nearly two decades.

The Wildcats hard four competitors reach All-American status last week at the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving National Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.

NMU head coach Heidi Voigt praised her athletes for their hard work throughout the seven-month-long season.

“We had a really successful season,” Voigt said.

“The team is holding together well, and this was one of the most fun years I’ve ever coached.

“Everyone was always on the same page, and going into practice, everyone was very motivated and it showed with our results.”

Rachel Helm became the first to reach All-American status for NMU since 1999 and the first in Voigt’s tenure.

The freshman from Newcastle, England, placed third in the 200-yard backstroke in 1 minutes, 57.05 seconds.

“Having a freshman come in and do what she did really sets the bar,” Voigt said.

“She helps put us on the level we want to be at. To accomplish this in her first year shows not only her potential, but the potential of this program.”

Lajos Budai was also a freshman Wildcat to earn All-American honors, as the Hungarian native placed third in the 100 freestyle in 43.33 seconds.

Sophomores Renars Bundzis and Angela Probstfeld also reached All-American status in Birmingham, with Probstfeld’s performance of 476.75 points in the women’s 3-meter diving landing her third place,

Bundzis’ time of 1:46.38 in the 200 back was good for seventh.

Voigt said the accomplishments the underclassmen reached early in their careers is a testament to the program’s progression.

“They all represent NMU very well,” Voigt said.

“We have great leadership on the team that helps them as well.

“When the freshmen came in, we had veterans showing them how we do things, what our culture is and what our expectations are.

“Even though swimming is technically an individual sport, we never look at it that way.

“All of our people who reached All-American status had help from teammates who pushed them every day. It’s all very important.”

The Wildcats women finished 19th in nationals with 71 points while the men took 21st with 73.

Voigt’s coaching staff has added five recruits each to the men’s and women’s teams, and the coach stressed how national accomplishments will help bring in even more talent for the coming seasons.

“We’re still looking to add a few more key parts,” Voigt said.

“It’s amazing how much getting ranked throughout the season helps. We got top recruits answering our questionnaire and seeking us out. It’s important to show where the team is going.

“Our group we have is focused on getting better every year. Our results show what our standards are, and if we set the bar high, our athletes will reach it.”

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.