Posted: Thursday, 24 January 2013 11:02PM

Drury teams swimming in national championships

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When it comes to national championships involving area college programs, no one can come close to the Drury men's and women's swim teams.
Together, they've accounted for 18 national titles at the NCAA Division II level.  The men have won 10, including the last 8 in-a-row.  The women have won 8 national crowns, including four-in-a-row in the late 1990's.
The architect of all this success has been at Drury for three decades now.  Brian Reynolds has been named as National Coach of the Year seven times and has tutored too many All-Americans to count.  And by now, success has bred continued success.
"It really comes from the seniors on our team," Reynolds explains.  "We look to them to show that you come to practice every day and give 100 percent.  And then you come back the next day and do the same thing."
And those swimmers who have bought into the system come from all over the globe.  The men's team has representatives from the Phillipines, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Germany and Spain.
Vladimir Sidorkin is from Estonia, whom he represented in the 2008 Beijing Olympics before coming to Drury, where he's been a part of four national champion relay teams.  Sidorkin saw America as a land of opportunity to furthur both his educational and athletic skills.  And as for experiencing culture shock in Springfield?
"Everything I saw around me here I'd seen in Hollywood movies," Sidorkin laughed.  "It really wasn't a big culture shock."
The women's team includes swimmers from Russia, South Africa, Poland, Australia, and China.
Wai Ting Yu is from Hong Kong and was part of a national champion relay team her fresman year.  Now a sophomore, her culture shock was a bit more pronounced.
"My friend took me to a Chinese restaurant and they said they loved the Chinese food here," Yu recalled.  "When I tried it, I discovered that there's no such food in China at all.  It was fried chicken with sweet-and-sour sauce on it.  It was tasty, but it wasn't real Chinese food."
But both Yu and Sidorkin say their decision to come to Drury has been life-changing.
"This is my family," Sidorkin said.  "I couldn't find a better place."
"We have more advanced technology and caring from our trainers and coaches here," Yu added. "And this program is close to the level of world-class athletes."
So now the big question is, how long can Reynolds keep it up.  Reynolds admitted that with his daughter getting into her teen years, he had thought about "an exit strategy.  But we just adopted two little girls this past year and they've made me young again.  I'm in it for the long haul now."
Good news for fans and athletes at Drury, to be sure.

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