The women’s team at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois will be swimming their inaugural season this fall. The Catholic, liberal arts university added the program this year. Head coach Rachel Schlatter has spent a year recruiting and building the program from the ground up.
Schlatter comes to Quincy after two years of coaching with the Kansas City Blazers. Before that, she was the assistant men’s and women’s coach at NCAA Division III powerhouse Denison University. As a swimmer, she was a four-time NCAA qualifier and two-year team captain at the University of Nebraska.
“We have a great opportunity here at Quincy with starting our program brand new,” she said. “So far, I’ve done a lot of educating myself and promoting the team within the community and here on campus to really let people around here know what it means to have a swim team. It’s all been overwhelming, but exciting.”
Schlatter is optimistic about the team’s upcoming season. Quincy, a Division II school, will join DII powerhouses Truman State and Drury in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Drury’s women have won six of the last nine NCAA Division II Championships, while Truman consistently ranks at or near the top of the country.
“We’ll be competing against the best of the best right away, which will really help us initially set the tone,” she said. “Looking at the recruits’ times coming in, I think we’ll have a chance for our individual and relay swims to come in top five at the conference level and to hit Division II ‘B’ standards. I want to have the girls in the program set our goals and expectations, but that’s where I see us going.”
The team is starting off with eleven women coming in for 2015-2016 season. Most are freshmen, but the roster includes two junior college transfers and two former swimmers who are upperclassmen at Quincy. The college will not offer men’s swimming in the fall, but Schlatter says that a men’s team is right on the horizon.
“Initially, we’re just starting with a women’s team, but we’re going to add in a men’s program once we get two to three seasons under our belt,” she said. “So, ideally, 2019 will be our first year starting our men’s swimming program.”
Schlatter thinks that Quincy and Division II swimming in general offer an important opportunity for swimmers to have an experience that goes beyond just swimming.
“One of the huge advantages of swimming Division II, especially here at Quincy, is the personalized education,” she said. “We can offer a smaller environment both academically and athletically. The professors and staff here want to know your name, and they want to know you as a person, rather than just a student ID number. There are also a ton of opportunities on campus with clubs and activities. All together, student athletes are able to create a unique and well-rounded collegiate experience.”
Starting up a team from nothing is no small challenge.
“One of the more challenging things about starting a team from scratch is setting the tone right away,” Schlatter said. “Right now we don’t have any traditions or records or standards established. The girls who are coming in are leaders and self-starters who want to create something special.”
Quincy’s swimmers for next season are coming in from all across the country. The standouts (with all times in SCY) include:
Briana Flores, a transfer from Indian River State College in Fort Piece, FL, who swims 24.86 in the 50 free, 54.21 in the 100 free, and 58.80 in the 100 back.
McKenna Brown from Minot High School in Minot, North Dakota, who swims 1:57.50 in the 200 free, 5:11.69 in the 500 free, 59.02 in the 100 back, and 2:12.13 in the 200 IM.
Maddie Rall, a breaststroker from Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska, who swims 1:09.68 in the 100 breast.
Brittany Walenczyk from West High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin, who swims 25.42 in the 50 free, 55.71 in the 100 free, 1:59.94 in the 200 free, and 5:19.16 in the 500 free.
Katie Cazes from St. Joseph Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who swims 5:37.69 in the 500 free, 1:01.65 in the 100 fly, and 2:21.53 in the 200 fly.
Reily Kane from Bradley Bourbonnais High School in Bourbonnais, Illinois, who swims 26.19 in the 50 free and 59.12 in the 100 free.