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Swimming & Diving: MAC Championships an exciting ending to seniors' careers

Any time a senior class steps into the arena, on the field, or, in this case, a natatorium, it packs a certain emotion whether it's sadness or excitement. For the Bobcats, this isn't just any class of seniors.

Ohio hosts the swimming and diving Mid-American Conference Championships beginning today. The four-day event marks the final time the Bobcats' six seniors will compete inside the Aquatic Center. Three have won individual MAC Championships during their careers, and two have set records at the meet.

Lindsay Hamilton, Rachel Heim, Stacey Huber, Stella Johnson, Kasey Tolbert and Amanda Traylor have led a Bobcat team that has exceeded many preseason expectations to this point. With an 8-2 dual-meet record, the Bobcats garnered votes in the latest CSCAA Division I Poll. Hamilton said she knows the team has to succeed now.

"I feel like there is a little more pressure because there's no, 'Oh, we'll do better next year,' sort of option," Hamilton said. "I think all the seniors, we're just really excited to find out how the whole thing pans out."

Beyond the accolades, having the MAC Championships in Athens their senior year was a vital recruiting tool to get this accomplished bunch on Ohio's campus.

"They've been talking about this since we recruited them," coach Greg Werner said. "They love it, they are so excited and I am so happy for them because it's a special group."

Hosting the MAC Championships not only brings the advantages of a familiar feel, but also gives a new meaning to holding the event at home.

"I think that everyone will just be more comfortable," Traylor said. "We'll have more friends in the stands, and more family will be able to come down."

For the younger swimmers and divers, the MAC Championships will provide an opportunity like none they have experienced.

"All the upperclassmen say it's just a lot of fun and it's always something they remember," freshman Laurin Williams said. "It would be amazing (to win), especially in my freshman year."

Dealing with difficulties might be the biggest key for the Bobcats, as consistency throughout four days will play a big part in crowning a champion.

"Nothing is going to go perfect. Something is going to happen that we didn't expect," Werner said. "The individuals who handle adversity the best do the best. The team that handles adversity the best will do the best."

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