We were at the mercy of the elements on Friday (fog in Atlanta, specifically), and checked in to the hotel in Ft. Myers at about 1:30 AM Saturday morning. The alarms still went off at 5:30, and 29 brave swimmers hit the water an hour later. Back to breakfast and a long winter’s nap, and we were back at it again at 6:00 that night.
The swimmers (and the coaches) may be tired, but we haven’t missed a beat, getting some good work in.
In between, there’s been time for relaxing on the beach, a run to church today, and some dry-land power work and even an ab/core workout. It doesn’t hurt that the temps have been in the 80s, with plenty of sun (and, of course, sunscreen).
More to come.
We have an expression that we use in the middle of a set, to remind us that at the halfway point in a set, we build it up a little…make it a little stronger…drop our times a bit. It’s “Happy Halfway” and it translates direclty into how we swim our races, that we consciously pick it up at the halfway point. There are a number of reasons we have been saying this for the past 25 years…we’ve even had it printed on our practice caps. Perhaps the most important reason that, often right in the middle of a race, you begin to feel the beginnings of some fatigue…and the last thing you should be thinking about is, “Golly, I’m starting to get a little tired here….” It’s much better to be thinking, “Okay, here we go…time to build it up….”
Well, it’s Happy Halfway in the season, and the perfect time to look at what has been a terrific first half, but also remind ourselves that we need to pick it up a little, and remember that our schedule and academic load really allow us to do so.
We started the season on a very high note…with some PR’s, a school record, and a majority of our swimmers very near their best-ever un-tapered times. We have built a good sense of family, and have taken part in quite a number of different community service events, both as a team and individually. We have done very well in the classroom.
But, our swimming and diving goals and dreams remain out there, like the second half of a race. And also like a race, we cannot focus on the end results (although that is very tempting and easy to do), we need to focus on the process…how we get there.
Sure, we can dream about everyone in the MIAC meet getting back to a final and scoring team points. We can dream about relays getting to nationals…about winning six or seven events at conference…about re-writing the record board as we did last year. After all, we’re on pace to do just that.
But to focus on the dream alone is to miss out on how you get there. And that is where the good stuff of athletics resides–in the journey. “Happy Halfway” reminds us of how we get there, by deciding to get a little stronger, powering it up a little, finding the next gear. So, that’s our task for the next couple of months. For swimmers and divers training at home, or maybe down in Florida, and then together during J-term.
It’s time to pick it up a little, and build on what we have already accomplished…if we do, the dreams will come true and the goals will be met.
I’ve written before about the incredible excitement that our swimmers have generated this year…everywhere I go on campus, people ask about the great start to the season that our swimmers and divers have built. It’s fun to have six of the fastest times in the conference (Becca Ney, Sam Simon, Peter Mullee, and our 200 and 400 Medley Relays –Jena Root, Jill Otterson, Ali Krieger/Maddie Frost, and Becca), and also have Peter Mullee’s 100 back among the fastest in all Division III.
That excitement was bumped up even more by the decision of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees to recommend to the full board that UST move ahead with the new athletic facilities…which includes plans for a wonderful new pool on the site of Foley Theater. http://www.stthomas.edu/bulletin/news/200850/Friday/Opus12_12_08.cfm
The pool will be about 25 x 36 yards with a bulkhead separating a diving area (which can also be used for training), giving us the potential of 12 training lanes, plus warm-up/cool-down lanes when we host meets. It also means that our divers can train with us…and compete at our pool!! But equally exciting is the fact that the shallow end is planned to be eight feet deep at the shallowest point…making for an incredible racing course. Obviously, as more details become firm, we can share them…but barring (further) national economic catastrophe, the new pool looks very much like a reality.
Yet, on the heels of this announcement came the sad news of the passing of Bob Christensen, the father of St. Thomas Swimming and Diving. Bob was St. Thomas’s first coach, hired in 1937, to create teams at the college and the academy. He brought the first conference swimming championships to UST, in 1940 and 1941, before World War II ended his tenure at St. Thomas. If you haven’t seen it yet, click on alum Michael Jordan’s (2008) wonderful short history of St. Thomas Swimming to learn more: http://stream.stthomas.edu/view.htm?id=SwimmingDivingHistory
For those of you at either of the two Alumni Meet/Reunion Dinners that Bob attended, you will remember him as a true educator and a man with a warm wit and a wonderfully generous spirit. At the start of the St. John’s/St. Ben’s dual meet, we offered a moment of silence. And although the Bob Christensen Trophy, given to our team captains, is now a memorial trophy, I don’t think we’ll change the engraving to include “memorial.” Better that it reflect that our memories of Bob are the foundation stones that keep our program alive…this wonderful sense of family.
And family was at the top of the tree yesterday as 50-some swimmers and divers gathered in our home to share dinner, and–in one very croweded living room–exhange gifts with their Pep Pals (another 30 year-old tradition), and then open gag gifts wrapped in newspaper. I’ve never heard so much laughter in one room in my life. What a joy.
And if Family didn’t need any more reinforcing, this morning, Michele and I finally got around to opening a couple of days’ worth of Christmas cards…(it’s been a little busy around the house, with Michele going like a machine getting the house and the dinner ready for the party). Anyway, many, many of our Christmas cards now contain pictures of the second generations coming into our extended family…and alums, we thank you for these and treasure these. These are–hands down–the cutest kids on Planet Earth. I hope to find a way to share them and other alumni-related news on an alumni web page on the swimming site…so stay tuned.
But for all of you who read this…swimmers & divers, alumni, parents & family, fans, and friends…I hope that the Christmas season finds all of you in good health and that you all find your hearts warmed by all our news…both happy and sad…news of the things that draw us together, and make us family.
Merry Christmas to all of you…with love, thanks, and a warm heart.