GENEVA, Ohio -- Once the snow started falling in northern Ohio on Wednesday, it fell hard, fast and for a long, long time.
Accumulation totals varied in the region, with around eight inches or so at the site of the NCAA Division II swimming and diving championships. And with an expected high temperature Thursday hovering around 20 degrees, the snow wasn’t going anywhere for at least a day or so.
Swimming and diving isn’t exactly a winter sport, and of the hundreds of student-athletes here this week, there’s a pretty good chance that some of them had rarely seen even a few flakes of the white stuff, much less this much.Three of them -- Danielle Dugas of Metarie, La.; Chloe Bennett, from Jasper, Ala.; and Kierstin Page, Trinity, Ala. -- were with the contingent from Delta State. Officially, their team name is the Lady Statesmen, and unofficially, the Fighting Okra.
This week, they might need to change that to the Frozen Fighting Okra.
Dugas, Bennett and Page knew they'd be spending a lot of time in the water this week. But what they didn't expect was so much of the frozen kind.
“I was so excited about it,” said Dugas, a sophomore. “All the coaches kept reminding me, ‘We’re going to get snow tomorrow. There’s going to be six inches.’ I was like, ‘I can’t wait! I can’t wait!’ I was like a little child walking around [Wednesday].”
Bennett wasn’t going to believe it until she saw it, no matter how much anybody tried to tell her that a heavy snowfall was all but a done deal. Page, on the other hand, was “super-duper” excited about it all.
“I couldn’t wait to see this much snow,” Bennett said. “I didn’t think snow could get this high, that so much could accumulate.”
The Lady Statesmen made the 20-mile trip from their hotel to Geneva and arrived with sleet already beginning to fall. The snow came later … and later … and later …
Page thought she was prepared for the weather, having brought boots and a ski jacket, but she forgot a hat and gloves. She’ll remember them the next time she competes for a swimming national championship in the middle of a blizzard.
Dugas brought a pair of gloves and hat for the occasion, but was quick to add, “I don’t think I brought enough.” Of the three, Bennett had multiple sweatshirts on -- and a pair of gloves.
“I guess I’m OK,” Dugas said.
However, the Delta State swimmers did not come to Ohio to goof off in the snow. There was business to be conducted at the SPIRE Institute, on the biggest DII stage of all: the national championships.
“I think it actually made me perform better [Wednesday],” Dugas said. “I was so excited to just finish the meet and get outside and play in it.”
“It put me in a better mood,” Page said. “I’m more excited and pumped up for everything. I’m happier, ready to go.”