Players of the Week – February 24th


Emily Watkins

Emily Watkins (senior) finished second overall in a tight race on Saturday at the SCIAC Swimming and Diving Championships, touching only 55 hundredths of a second after Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) sophomore Emily McKinnon, who won the women’s 100-yard breaststroke at 1:05.04.

With a time of 1:05.59, Watkins hit the B-cut NCAA qualification time. According to men’s and women’s swim coach Shea Manning, it is unlikely that she will receive an invitation to compete in the NCAA Championships in March, however reaching the B-cut is still a major accomplishment.

Watkins also placed 15th overall in the 200 breaststroke, hitting the wall in 2:32.75, after not racing in the event all season.

Over the course of Watkins’ time at Occidental, Manning has employed a special training regime in response to the unusual amount of stress the sport causes to the senior swimmer’s body.

“Her training is not as high yardage,” Manning said. “When we do have time with her in the pool she’s just working on getting a feel for the water or going all out race pace.”

According to Watkins, training like other swimmers would take her out of practice for several days.

“There’s more of a focus on quality rather than quantity and practicing those sprints and getting as much rest as possible so I can make sure that what I’m doing is worth it,” Watkins said.

The Occidental women’s swim team placed fifth in the championships with 285 points. CMS claimed the title with 796.

A sociology major set to graduate in May, Watkins hopes to travel before attending graduate school and becoming either an educator or social worker. During that time she hopes to compete in masters swimming.

Steven van Deventer

Steven van Deventer (senior) refused to surrender his title as champion of the men’s 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events at the 2015 SCIAC Championships, claiming first place wins in both events for the third consecutive year.

Van Deventer broke his own record that he set in 2014, posting a new SCIAC 100 breaststroke record of 54.71 on Saturday, narrowly missing an NCAA A-cut time (54.46).

A two-time defending national champion in the 200 breast, van Deventer swam 2:01.31 to clench Sunday’s victory in that event.

“There’s no feeling like being behind the block and knowing there’s an expectation you’ll succeed,” van Deventer said. “Kind of makes me want to throw up, but when it’s all over it’s worth it.”

Van Deventer’s legacy of success extends beyond the pool.

“He’s one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever seen, just very level-headed in approaching any race that he’s swimming in,” Manning said. “I’ve never seen him lose his cool and I think that has really resonated with our team.”

The Occidental men’s swim team placed fifth overall the weekend with 323 points, 464.5 points behind champions CMS.

Currently, van Deventer is ranked second in Division III for the 200 breast event, fourth in the 100 breast and 19th in the 200-yard individual medley, making it likely that he will be invited to compete in the NCAA swimming and diving championships in March.

Van Deventer is majoring in physics and minoring in computer science. Though he is currently interning at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, van Deventer is unsure what he will be doing post-graduation. His plans may include competing in the 2016 Olympics.

“My dad’s a Zimbabwe citizen and he wants me to swim in the 2016 Olympics for Zimbabwe, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” van Deventer said.


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