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Edinboro women's swimming team enjoying historic season

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 10:03 p.m.
Edinboro University Athletics
Edinboro senior Alexis Berdine, a Moon graduate, has the top time in the PSAC in the 100 backstroke this season.

This season is shaping up to be one of the best in the history of Edinboro women's swimming. The Scots finished the regular season 9-0, capping it Saturday with their first win over perennial PSAC power Clarion.

Edinboro clinched the victory over Clarion in the meet's final event when the 200 freestyle relay team placed second. Moon graduate Alexis Berdine was part of that relay team, and while second was good enough to achieve a watershed win for the program, Berdine has grown accustomed to touching the wall ahead of her competitors.

The senior has crafted a season full of first-place finishes and records.

“When she first came in, she was kind of unsure about some things,” coach Chris Rhodes said. “She had a boatload of talent but just wasn't quite sure how to get the job done. To watch her progress to where she is now to be the top backstroker in the conference … has just been great.

“Not just for the younger swimmers but even for her fellow seniors, to kind of have her push them has made them better swimmers and a better team.”

Berdine has the top time in the PSAC — and the No. 10 time in Division II, according to collegeswimming.com — in the 100 backstroke. She has had a hand in two meet records, three school records and four pool records this winter.

“When I swim, I don't really think about anything. It just kind of happens,” said Berdine, whose name still appears on Moon's record board in the 200 medley relay. “I didn't expect much record-breaking coming into college. So I'm really proud of what I've done.”

Like many athletes who have made swimming their focus, Berdine competed in a variety of events as she came up through the youth and high school ranks. Though the backstroke has become her specialty, she still displays some versatility; one of the school records she set this season was in the 50 freestyle — with a time that puts her 25th in the nation.

But more than being the Scots' top backstroker and a talented freestyler, Berdine often is Rhodes' go-to swimmer in critical moments.

“What's nice about Alexis is we use her for anchoring a lot on the relays because I know that I can count on her,” Rhodes said. “With her competitive nature, she's going to get up and go after things. Some people thrive on that, and I believe she's one of them.”

Next up for Edinboro is the PSAC championships Feb. 19-23. The Scots face the herculean task of trying to knock off West Chester, which has won every conference swimming title since 2007. Of course, Clarion and its 26 conference titles also will be there waiting.

Edinboro, meanwhile, hasn't finished higher than fourth (2008).

Short of winning a conference title, Rhodes wants to push multiple swimmers through to the NCAA meet. The Scots' 200 and 400 free relays and 200 and 400 medley relays rank in the top 20 in Division II.

In addition to Berdine's No. 10 national ranking in the 100 back, freshman Goezde Tekin is fourth in the 200 butterfly, and freshman Holly Stein (St. Joseph) is 14th in the 100 breast.

Berdine is confident that she and her teammates aren't finished making school history.

“With the freshmen that came in, I actually expected a lot from this year,” she said. “Everyone clicked really well, so it brings a better morale for competing and practicing.”

Chuck Curti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ccurti@tribweb.com.

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