Discontinued swimming & diving programs are a common storyline in the college offseason. But while a program itself may end, what happens to the individual pieces who make up that program – both athletes and coaches?
One year ago this month, Lindenwood University – Belleville shut down its entire campus, consolidating with the main Lindenwood University campus in St. Charles, Missouri. That ended Belleville’s NAIA swimming & diving program, dispersing 29 swimmers and coach Ksenia Gromova across the country to various new programs for the 2019-2020 school year.
In their final season at Belleville, the Lynx men finished 2nd in the Mid-South Conference and 3rd at the NAIA National Championship meet. The women were 4th at Mid-Souths and 9th at NAIAs.
“When I saw the article about the program cut again my heart stopped for a second,” Gromova said. “The team we shaped into by the end of 2018-2019 season had a special bond. It was literally a dream team. Many of them still keep in touch with each other and me.
“I would like our story to keep living.”
We connected with Gromova to get an idea where each former Lindenwood – Belleville teammate ended up, and how their 2019-2020 season went.
Saint Peters University
Five former Belleville swimmers made the jump to Division I of the NCAA with Saint Peter’s University:
- Martin Le Pays du Teilleul
- Thomas Granet
- Alina Geck
- Marie Geck
- Amelie Essmann
Junior Marie Geck of Germany finished 4th in the MAAC in the 1650 free for Saint Peters, and fellow German national Amelie Essmann was 10th in the 200 fly.
2019 NAIA national champion 200 freestyler Ante Dany transferred out to Marist College. As a sophomore, he went .01 faster than his national championship time a year prior, winning the B final of the ECAC Championships in 1:39.84.
Seven former Lynx resurfaced at Belleville’s sister school, the Lindenwood University campus in St. Charles that absorbed Belleville’s academic programs. Lindenwood competes in Division II of the NCAA.
- Niels Engeln
- Anna Martens
- Mareja Markovic
- Petro Halaichuk
- Henrique Medeiros
- Pedro da Silva
- Chelsea Merfol
Niels Engeln was Belleville’s other NAIA champion in 2019. He won the 1650 free in Belleville’s final season. As a senior this year, Engeln had qualified for the Division II NCAA Championships in the 1650, 1000 and 500 freestyles, and finished 2nd in the 1000 before that meet was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
University of Texas – Permian Basin
Three more swimmers jumped to Division II of the NCAA with UT – Permian Basin:
- Codey Liedel
- Alex Wickens
- Andrea Russell
Alex Wickens scored at the NSISC Championships, taking 16th in the 200 back.
College of Saint Rose
Eric Romero Gomez headed to the College of Saint Rose, winning the Northeast-10 B final of the 100 and 200 backstrokes
St. Ambrose University
Gabe Carlson stayed in the NAIA, joining St. Ambrose University. He led off St. Ambrose’s 7th-place 200 medley relay at the NAIA Championships.
Meanwhile head coach Ksenia Gromova got a job with Duquesne at the Division I level. She helped Duquesne’s women take 3rd at the Atlantic-10 Championships