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Swimming and diving gears up for conference tournament

Feb. 23, 2015

By Kevin Alquist

Cleveland State University’s swimming and diving team enters the Horizon League Championship on Feb. 25-28. Though the team had trouble staying in the win column all season, first year head coach Paul Graham said it all comes down to how his team swims in the tournament.

“We are controlling what we can,” Graham said. “There have been ups and downs all year but swimming is different in that all that matters is how [each swimmer] competes at the end of the year.”

At the conference tournament, Graham will look at each swimmer and judge his or her performance based on what he believes that swimmer’s peak ability is.

“We’ll judge the swimmers by what their ceiling is and how they compared to that,” Graham said. “The closer they get to that, the happier we are.”

The Horizon League recently acknowledged two members of the team for their performance.

Diver Danny Roberts was named Horizon League Diver of the Week on Feb. 3 for his Jan. 31 performance against Xavier University and Oakland University.

During the meet, Roberts, a junior, earned scores of 338.85 in the one-meter and 324.53 in the three-meter diving event.

German-born sophomore swimmer Phillipp Sikatzki was named Horizon League Swimmer of the Week for his performances at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Notre Dame College on Feb. 6-7. During the two-day span, he won five events in two days. He won the 100-yard backstroke with a finishing time of 49.91 and the 200 backstroke with a 1:51.68.The meet at Notre Dame was the second for the team within a 24-hour period. Sikatzki followed up with another strong performance in South Bend, winning the 50-yard freestyle with a finishing time of 20.79. He was victorious in the 100-yard freestyle as well, earning first-place with a time of 45.49.

Graham has high praise for the work ethic of Roberts and Sikatzki.

“Danny [Roberts] is so mentally tough,” Graham said. “He’s been battling a bad back and shoulder all year but he’s been able to focus even with the limited amount of training he can do.”

Graham is familiar with Roberts, as he coached the diver for a year in his previous position as head coach of swimming and diving at Ashland University.

Of Sikatzki, Graham said he is a pleasure to work with because he gives his absolute best at every opportunity that comes his way. The sophomore swimmer should be a major force for the Vikings in the coming years.