Monthly Archives

January 2009

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

The Top 15 List Takes a Beating

For the last 30 years, we have kept a list of the Top 15 swimming and diving performances in our school’s swimming history, including three from Kasya and Neal on the diving team just yesterday. This past two weekends, since we got back from our Christmas training, that list has taken a pounding. This past weekend alone, for example, we added 10 new entries including Peter Mullee’s school record swim in the 200 Freestyle (which, by the way, was his 6th swim in about 20 hours).
Up at the SJU/CSB Winter Invitational, we had about a half a dozen more. Next week, when we swim St. Olaf at home (Friday at 6:00) and then head over Saturday to the Macalester Invite 2, I expect a bunch more.
Do you remember last year, when we just about flipped our lids with pride when we had 69 new Top 15 entries after our great conference meet? Well, already this year, we have already posted 27 new Top-15ers, all before taper.
This is one indicator, for our top swimmers. But as a team, just how well are we swimming? Well, I’d venture to say that we have had at least 15 lifetime PRs set already this year…and that’s not counting the multiple PRs that our swimmers and divers set as they continue to improve. Sydney Kuramoto is a good example of this, as she is lowering her PR by about a second each time she hits the water in the 200 IM or 200 Back. Probably 90% of the team is swimming at or faster that their best-ever pre-taper and unhsaved times.
And given the quality of our tapers year after year, that’s exciting.

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

Friendships Where Rivalries so Often Reside

Our program is unique in so many ways…our emphasis on community service, how our training allows for campus involvement and academic excellence, all while we swim faster than purple rocket ships. But there’s another dimension of our family…something that I’ve been aware of for a while, but was illustrated so beautifully this past weekend, that I wanted to share it.
Almost all teams have swimmers that compete directly with teammates for places on the relay, who swims in the #1 spot in an event, etc. We’ve all heard the horror stories of how these competitions turn into rivalries, which then turn into bitter, nasty, conflict that can create cancerous cliques and tear teams apart.
But last weekend, as I looked down the rows of seats in the bus on the way home from the SJU/CSB Winter Invite, what do I see but our two senior breast strokers, Krista Horejsi and Jill Otterson, sitting side by side, talking away, smiles, laughs, doing all the stuff that great friends do. A couple of rows back, it’s Jena Root and Becca Ney, our two top backstrokers/sprint freestylers, also doing what great friends do. (You remember that last year at the MIAC Championships, Jena qualified first in the 100 Back Prelims with a NCAA cut, and Becca won the event in Finals. Rivalry? You should’ve seen the hugs after the race.
“She’s my inspiration, my push,” says Jena, “We help each other be fast” They both admit to being a little nervous last year, but the apprehension quickly melted into mutual respect and from that, a great friendship developed. Now, they are fast friends, and both rejoice in the other’s success…no matter which place it is…”As long as we go 1-2,” smiled Jena. For Becca, Jena “is always someone I can lean on before or after a race to give me encouraging words of support. We tell each other that ‘we will love each other no matter how each of us swims.’ ”
For Jill and Krista, it’s been a natural friendship that transcends anything in the pool. It’s more of a coincidence that they swim the same races. When asked about this phenomenon, Krista instantly said, “I love her!” and Jill agreed. For them, it has been Krista’s emergence as a force in the breast stroke that could have been a threat to Jill…but neither would have any of that. While Jill nursed the classic sore knees of a breast stroker, Krista was posting lifetime best 200s and 100s within tenths of her conference meet times. Did this stress the friendship? Only if you consider how Krista might have worried about Jill’s feelings.
Rivalry? More like Support Group. Jill, Krista, Jena, and Becca aren’t unique on the team, either. We have breast strokers John Stark and Grant Frost (or Grant and Jeff Buchholz)…or Peter Mullee and Erik Huls You get the sense that there’s something special going on. Becca says, it’s “what we are about as Tommies.”

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

Perfect End to a Perfect Training Trip

Although it took a while to pay 30 separate checks, our team dinner at Carrabbas last night was the perfect (almost) ending to a great week of training in Ft. Myers (I say almost, because we had a relaxing recovery practice this morning). We leave for the airport in a few minutes, so this will be short. But the weather was great, the beaches relaxing, and the workouts intense. We got in a lot of quality, both for the sprint and stroke groups, but some great distance sets for the D-peeps as well.
There are plenty of sore shoulders, which is normal with this kind of training, but spirits have been uniformly high and there have been a lot of laughs and fun times to go along with the daily pattern of swim, nap, eat, nap (often on the beach), swim, eat, sleep. I could not be more pleased with the work ethic.
Huge thanks to assistant coach Aly Janzen and her husband Ryan, who helped immensely. Ryan drove vans, ran a stopwatch, and ferried people to and from the airport. Their help is really, really appreciated.
So, home to the snow and cold, but with a very clear focus on the end-of-season goals, and a great base from which to work toward them.