Dec. 5, 2005
~by Alex May
Their hair is still wet as we sit in the blue, fabric task chairs in the empty study hall room on the second floor of the MAC. They have just gotten out of practice 15 minutes ago.
Seeing seniors Dana Golino and Kaitlin Krause around campus, many students wouldn't know they have been roommates, best friends and teammates since freshman year, or that they are captains of one of the smallest and most closely knit sports programs at Siena College.
With its inception in 1998, the swimming (and diving) program is only in its eighth season and--come hell or low water--they're here to stay.
As Golino and Krause compete in their senior season, they have emerged as leaders for a program that has had to overcome its share of obstacles. The past two seasons have seen the swim team's numbers dwindle, and while there are plenty of talented swimmers, that deficit puts added pressure on the swimmers to perform to their full potential.
The benefits according to Golino are how the 12 members have come together to become a family. "I feel that we're a closer team because there are not so many girls, so you get to know everyone a lot more," says Golino, a Connecticut native whose specialty is the butterfly and backstroke.
"It forces everyone to rise to the occasion every time," Krause, the 5-9 freestyle and breaststroker added. "When one of us doesn't do well, it affects everyone else in that way."
Even though everyone who exercises at the MAC sees the swim team incessantly practicing, the recognition has been slow to develop.
Most Siena students wouldn't know that three years ago the nascent swim program lost the MAAC Championships by only a few points. Participating in the championship meets for a grueling endurance sport at the Division I level is no easy task. Krause and Golino have helped groom the younger swimmers, while sticking with their dream of competing at Siena.
"It hasn't always been easy, because the acknowledgement and respect that (we felt) should have been given--was not there," said Krause.
Another obstacle Krause and Golino have faced has been a change in leadership. Last season saw the hiring of Glenn McKenna. A seasoned swim veteran who has been in the Capital Region since 1989, his 13 years of experience is just what the program needs, and with a strong focus on stroke technique and individual attention--McKenna expects the team to grow.
"Because we have not had a steady coach it has been hard to find good leadership amongst the teammates," Krause said. "Coach McKenna has been a breath of fresh air. He really cares about us beyond swimming."
With the guidance of McKenna, the captains are hoping to rebuild the foundations of the swim program. With more active recruiting, the Saints hope to be back competing for conference championships in the near future.
As it gets closer and closer for Krause and Golino to hang up their goggles for good, both have high hopes for the future generations of Saints' swimmers. Both have helped pave the way for a successful swim program and have worked vigorously to deal with the hardships, all the while performing to the best of their abilities.
Apart from all the drama and controversy that student-athletes sometimes get caught up in, both of them admit that when you take everything else away, this extraordinarily hard-working team will never be without the strongest asset any athlete could ever possess--heart.
~Alex May is a sophomore English major at Siena