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Swimming & Diving

Day One, Year 80

Two of our three workouts are in the books for Day 1 (the divers are on the boards as I write this) of the 80th year of St. Thomas Swimming and Diving.  It was in 1934 that saw the first record of St. Thomas’s participation in the Minnesota College Conference swimming meet.

There are, by happy coincidence, 80 athletes on the roster in this 80th year…41 women and 39 men–of which nine are divers!  They are more deeply talented than any team in the program’s history, although it’s a little hard to compare the championship teams of the 40s and 50s.  Back then, there were fewer events, teams were smaller, and the number of events an individual could swim were very limited.  In 1949, for example, Rule V, Section 3 states, “No contestant shall participate in more than three different events in a swimming meet (participation in a water game excepted).”

Bob Christensen’s 1941 championship team had only eight men, but they won five events and the championship.  St. Thomas’ss first championship team after World War II has only 10 men, a manager, and legendary coach Don Adee in the team photo.

So, today’s team, while huge by comparison, is able to stand on but a handful of shoulders–that’s how broad they were.

1941 Team

The 1941 Champions

 

Swimming & Diving, Uncategorized

Practicing Gratitude

One shouldn’t need the Thanksgiving holiday to remind us to be thankful, but the opportunity for reflection is certainly welcome.

I’d like to use this blog to share some of the responses of the St. Thomas swimmers and divers to the question, “What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday?”   Here’s what they said:

I am most thankful for my die-hard parents who have supported me through thick, thin, downs and ups. – Jeff Isaacson.

I am thankful for my swimming family, mittens to keep my hands warm, garlic mashed potatoes, my family and friends, and chai tea. – Emily Punyko

I am thankful for being apart of the biggest group of friends you will ever find on campus. – Kathleen Dempsey

What I am thankful for my teammates this Thanksgiving. Both my current and past teammates have been an incredible support to me and are like my family (as Tom loves to put it). – Wade Fuerste

I am thankful for having coaches that are only “moderately pleased,” pushing me to strive for more. – Evan Eklund.  [Editor’s note:  I’m an optimist, and get kidded by the team sometimes for my rose-colored view of them and how they swim, so recently, I’ve adopted the stance that I am “moderately pleased,” or when things are really going well, I am (on rare occasions), “reasonably happy.”]

I am most thankful for my Mom.  I have never come across someone so devoted to others, so supportive, and so understanding.  She gives me strength and support in everything I do, all my successes in life can be attributed to her. – Hayley Trace

I am thankful for the health and happiness of my friends and family.  I am also thankful that I get to see my family, which includes my adorable dog, over Thanksgiving break. – Jen Littlejohn

I am most thankful for the blessings God has put in my life, especially the fact that after suffeirng a serious neck injury I am able to swim and  I can still compete here at UST with an incredible team. – Brian Huls

I am most thankful for my wonderful family and friends. I do not know what I would do without them in my life. – Erin Windschitl

This thanksgiving break i am incredibly thankful for my family and safe travel. I havent seen my brother in a long time due to the distance between Iowa and Minnesota, and having my parents now living up here. He also got engaged to his girlfriend (she has become my sister over these last 7 years that they were dating). We are lucky to have Jack (my brother) and Libby (his fiance) coming to thanksgiving this year. I havent seen Libby in two years due to school and the fact that she was in Panama for a whole year on a scholarship to teach English to the Panamanians. I am incredibly thankful for them both having safe travels and having them in my family and being able to spend time with them this weekend. – Banning Young

The support of my friends and family – Alec Nielsen

One thing that I am very thankful this Thanksgiving is all of the opportunities that I have been given, and some of these opportunities stem from being part of UST Swimming and Diving Family. Over the past couple of months, I have been interviewing with several companies for summer internships. Past swimmers from those companies have reached out and helped me to make the most of my interviewing experience as well as instilling some of my confidence. I am very grateful to them for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help me through this process, and I feel that much of my success has been due to their guidance. I hope to be the same helping hand for other swimmers in the future. – Anonymous

I’m thankful to be meeting my new baby nephew for the first time on Thursday. He’s a little over a month old. – Nick Haugen

I am most thankful for my friends and family who have helped me through so much in my life. – Dan Newman

I’m thankful for all my brothers overseas who aren’t able to be with their loved ones this holiday season.  Their service and sacrifice allows me and my family to share precious moments together.  – Ray Baltera

Now you know why I am so thankful every day, for the quality of the young men and women I have the privilege to coach.

Swimming & Diving

The New Year Fast Approaches

And a Birthday for the Anderson Aquatic Center

And a Birthday for the Anderson Aquatic Center

Quicker than you can say, “October 3,” the 2011-12 edition of the St. Thomas Swimming and Diving family will hit the water and the boards to start the new year.
We hope to have the roster up on the website soon. We have a very talented group of new swimmers and divers…which will give us the largest team in St. Thomas history.

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

It’s Official!

On Friday, October 15, we ran an unofficial handful of time trials to test the timing system, and the results were “WOW”…”Holey Moley” and literally raised goosebumps on my forearms. The pool, officially, is fast.
Splits in the men’s 200 Medley Relay were fantastic, with three flyers (not even including 2-time MIAC Champion Erik Huls) were under 24.7, two backstrokers leading off under 25.9, and two anchor legs in the 21s. The women’s Medley was at already at 2:00, with a couple of faster splits in other relays.
The men’s and women’s 50s were amazing for this time of year. Even the 100 IMs were surprisingly fast…faster than these swimmers were at last year’s relay meet, and we’re only two weeks into the season.
All this tells me two important things: That the current team has talent, but also that the new pool is really, really fast! Maybe even faster than we had hoped as we poured over archetect’s drawings this past year.
In two weeks, we’ll host the St. Thomas Relays for the first time since we outgrew O’Shaughnessy Hall in 1999 and moved the meet to the Butler Center Pool at St. Catherine University, and later to Carleton. At that time, we’ll have further confirmation of just how amazing this pool is…the speculative term “wicked fast” may prove to be too mild a descriptor.

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

First Practices

We’re into our second week of practice, and the pool is turning out to be everything we hoped for. Coming from the old O’Shaughnessy Pool, and it’s narrow five lanes, the fun of writing a practice (as I did today) for six different sets spread among 12 lanes is fantastic.
The record board is going up today, and we’re getting the finishing touches on the video board. Backstroke flags and our final lane line set up is coming soon. Hard to believe that, at this time last year, we were in O’Shaughnessy Hall, sharing the locker room with the football team (ugh…mud and shoulder pad smell).
Our first set-up of the timing system comes Friday, then the Alumni Meet (on Sunday, October 24th), and then The St. Thomas Relays–back on campus for the first time in many years–on October 30th!

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

First Splash

Yesterday, at about 4:00 PM, 50 members of UST’s swimming and diving family joined hands, and after a count of “seven, eight, ready, “GO!” all jumped into the new pool, becoming the first UST students to swim in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex’s amazing Aquatic Center.
After the jump, everyone surfaced, and after a moment of sheer wonder, a spontaneous cheer erupted. This was followed by a swim across to the bulkhead, some jumps into the diving well, some dives off the blocks, and about an hour of just “soaking it in.”
A special moment, the first of many for the family in their new home….perhaps not the “Palace Clubhouse,” as we knew O’Shaughnessy Natatorium, but certainly still deserving of being called “The Palace.”

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

The Timing System is Going In

Stopped by the pool today, and chatted with the Colorado Timing Systems installation techs. They were installing the fiber-optic line to the magnificent video scoreboard. The video panels weren’t up yet, but they were close.
Both techs commented very positively on the pool itself, and one said to me, about his equipment, “You’re getting the best stuff we make.” We (swimmers, coaches, and fans) are very fortunate.
Then, this evening, I got a call from Karly Harrod, our sophomore breast stroker, who was on campus, and happened to walk by the new Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex while the video components were going up to create the scoreboard. During the installation, according to Karly, they were projecting video of nature scenes with various animals. She said it was like watching television. Karly watched as they completed the second row, and half the top row before the rain chased her away.
Every detail that is finished or unwrapped makes me more and more appreciative of all those who made this possible…from Lee and Penny Anderson, to the administrators at St. Thomas whose vision matched ours for a fast intercollegiate racing and diving pool (and outfitted it superbly), to the workers who have clearly taken pride in this magnificent building.

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

More Progress!

The progress on the new pool is nothing short of phenomenal. The tiling of the pool tank is done, and the decks are being tiled this week. The tile and grout will need to cure for a period of a little more than three weeks, but the pool will be ready for water late in August, and should be operational by the start of school.
This pictures shows the tiling progress…the view is from the deck looking into the deep end. Can you see the bulkhead, all wrapped up, hanging from the rafters?

Our parents and fans are going to be excited, too. The view from the two levels of bleachers is going to be unlike any view of a swim meet enjoyed before. Here’s what the amphitheater-like seating looks like from the deck:

And did we mention the Bose -based sound system? The 12mm pixel video board? The state of the art Colorado Timing System?

Coaches, Swimming & Diving

Saying Farewell

The big overhead crane is now poised in the parking lot adjacent to O’Shaughnessy Hall. The old building looks more like a skeleton now, with the windows and doors all removed and everything salvageable taken from the building. The electricity is now cut off, and the March wind blows through the building.
But a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to walk quickly in, and take one last picture of the old pool, and officially turn my gaze from memories of the old place to planning for the new pool.
I thought I’d share this montage of pictures, from 1940, 2005, and two weeks ago.


Coaches, Swimming & Diving

It Hasn’t Sunk In Yet

I don’t even know where to start…there are so many wonderful aspects to this past MIAC Championships:
1. The first men’s swimming championship in 56 years.
2. Training in four different pools (if you count the training trip) as our home went away.
3. The incredible improvment of our swimmers (again) this year.
4. 26 School Records and 87 new entries in the All-Time Top 15 list.
5. A true “Family” championship – our men won the trophy, but the entire team played a significant role.
Perhaps I’ll take a little time in the days to come to talk about each of these stories…they deserve their own telling.
But for now, let me take a moment to say thanks to the swimmers, of course, but also to the incredible group of fans that lifted us, session after session, to this great finish. A great, noisy group of parents, family, school mates, teammates, and alumni lifted our hearts through the exhaustion of a long three-day meet, and gave us the courage to rise to every challenge. Thank you…thank you. You share a piece of this great win.