By William Qualkinbush
But the plan has been largely thrown out for the Clemson swimming and diving program over the past two seasons, so Head Coach Christopher Ip decided to make a change to it.
After the seniors were finished running through the makeshift tunnel comprised of current and former student-athletes in the program that has become a traditional way to honor those swimming or diving for the final time as a Tiger, Ip allowed every team member to do the same.
“It was the only way I would have wanted to finish my swimming career at Clemson,” junior Tori Cervone said. “If we had this meet at Greenville, it wouldn’t have been the same.
“This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
It was a way to recognize the end of a history that spans almost nine decades by acknowledging every team member would be performing for the final time at home as a Tiger. What followed was an exhibition that included a sweep of Emory and the rewriting of the school record books.
Particularly interesting was the dominating fashion in which the Clemson women’s team took care of the Eagles, especially for a group that has been somewhat upstaged by their male teammates that have been setting records and winning titles at an impressive rate.
“Our women’s team is very, very small now,” Ip said. “We had swimmers who had to come back and swim back-to-back events to make sure they honored this program with a win. That’s how tough they are.”
One of the swimmers faced with a tough slate to swim was junior Kristen Redmond, who won three different freestyle events at the meet. She won the 200, the 500, and the 1,000 freestyle at the meet, but her most impressive feat was taking home victories in the first two events back-to-back without much of a breather.
Redmond credited her teammates for her performance, citing efforts by others as the reason for the collective victory.
“We wanted to win it because it was our first and last home meet of the year,” Redmond said. “But above all else, we wanted to perform well as a team. As long as we were one team and we did our best, we knew it would turn out the way we wanted it.”
Cervone, who has performed well at home for her entire career, joined Redmond in winning three events. Her victories in the 200 backstroke, the 200 individual medley, and the 200 butterfly created momentum for the Tigers throughout the meet and could signal something special on the horizon for the Clemson women’s program.
“Honestly, I try to separate all the meets,” Cervone said of building on her performances. “If you have a bad meet, you don’t want that to stick with you, much like if you have a good meet. I don’t like comparing individual achievements and failures to other things. I take things one at a time because otherwise, you can become a head case.”