Sentel, Gast compete in 5,000-meter open-water race in Kansas lake
By Taylor Wooten
Junior swimmers Kevin Gast and Brynna Sentel traded a pool for Lonestar Lake in Lawrence, Kansas, for their first competition of the 2019-20 school year on Sept. 14.
In doing so, the pair became the first Franklin College Grizzlies to compete in the 3.1 mile open-water race held by the Col- lege Swim Coaches Association of America.
In the women’s 5,000-meter race, Sentel battled it out for a time of 1:14:00.9, finishing 60th out of 82 women. As for the men’s 5k, Gast placed 37th out of 54 men with a time of 1:10:43.9. Since the event was not sponsored by the NCAA, all divisions could participate allowing Sentel and Gast to compete against Division I athletes.
Participants had to meet cutoff times during the 2018-19 season in the 500, 1000 or 1650-yard freestyle races. Sentel qualified on her 500 freestyle time while Gast made it in with his mile (1650 freestyle).
The change in distance and setting presented new challenges for the swimmers.
“With swimming in a lake, as opposed to a pool, you can’t see the bottom. You have to lift your head a lot, and so I was working a lot on trying to develop those muscles so I wouldn’t die during the race,” Sentel said with a laugh.
Another complication Sentel found in the open-water race was the difference in distance between her and her competitors.
In a pool, everyone is forced to remain within sight, but open water is different.
Since NCAA Division III rules prevent athletes from training on campus out of sea- son, they had to prepare on their own time.
“I swam in an open water competition [over the summer], and I know Brynna was going to a lake and training once or twice a week,” Gast said.
Both swimmers agreed that the competi- tion had a positive impact on their training.
“Having a goal early in the season that you can set, saying ‘We’re going to this meet, we need to be in shape for it,’ kind of gets you geared up to attack the beginning of the season,” Gast said.
Sentel doesn’t usually swim anything further than the 500-yard freestyle, but she believes completing the 5k will help her mindset in future competitions.
“It makes me look at the 500 as a lot easier, so that helps me, again, mentally to think, ‘Oh, if I can do a 5k, then I can do a mile,’” Sentel said.
The pair hopes that more FC swimmers can join them in the future.
“I thought it was really cool starting that for the college team,” Gast said.
Head Swimming and Diving Coach, An- drew Hendricks, said Gast pushed to get the team involved in open-water swimming. He added that Sentel was willing to try some- thing new with the open-water competition.