On December 26, thirty-one of our team will rendezvous in Ft. Myers, Florida, for an intense 7-day training trip. We’ll be training at the Florida Gulf Coast University’s 50m and 25 yard pools. Add in some dry-land training, our usual ab workout, and some serious video analysis every day, and it’s going to be a great experience. Of course, there is the spectacular brunch buffet at the Embassy Suites hotel (our “in” at the Suites, thanks to alum Joe Coursolle, a General Manager in the Hilton Hotel chain), and the incredible white sand of the gulf coast beaches.
We come back just in time for the start of January term, and that very next Saturday, the women head up to Concordia for a dual meet with the Lady Cobbers. I’m guessing we’re going to be very fast.
Christmas training is a time when seasons can be turned around. I know that all our swimmers and divers, whether they’re making the training trip or not, are going to be working hard, preparing for a great January. It’s clear to me that this team senses just how good it can be, and will be doing whatever it takes to reach that potential.
Last Friday, we had one of those workouts that give coaches goosebumps (well…at least this coach got goosebumps). We had the whole team in the water, except the kids who had tapered for CSB/SJU because they were traveling abroad this spring, so the pool was packed.
We started with some nice general training sets, mixing things up a little, and the team was getting into it. Then, to end the workout, we did a set of 10 x 50. Everyone went 10-seconds apart, to keep the circle suction to a minimum. Because of the crowd, we went on the 1:30… lot of rest, but also a chance to practice being fast…one of our training mantras.
Well, it was amazing. In all my years of coaching, I’ve considered breaking 28 seconds in a repeat 50 a pretty good accomplishment for a woman at this level. I’ve seen it several times, but it’s not all that common. At the end of the set, we had seven women on the team with 27.8 or faster from a push-off, with Becca Ney popping a 26.7 on her last 50. Of those who weren’t under 28, several nearly equalled their best dive-start times of the season, from a push-off. And the men were just as strong.
It was a set I’ll certainly remember for a long time…or at least until this group of workout monsters puts together another set that out-does this one.
The beauty in our women’s basketball program is the people. Each player, parent, coach, alumnae, booster and community member bring our program pride and character. Basketball is a lot like life – full of ups and downs, twists and turns. By playing the game you love, you learn a lot about life. This year our team read the book, “Make the Big Time Where You Are” by Frosty Westerling. From this book we learned the value of healthy competition, pushing yourself and teammates to maximum potential, and striving to be the best. The Basketball arena provides us with this opportunity of self-discovery, both individually and collectively as a team.
Our motto this year is “Play Like a Champion” with the expectation to give championship effort in all that we do. This goes against societies’ philosophy of number one or no one. We live in a credit card world where we get it now and pay for it later. This year our women’s team is all about commitment. A commitment to excellence, championship standards, each other, hard work, and making our days here at St. Thomas count. We wear the jersey with pride, purpose and class.
As the holiday season approaches, we all must take a look at what we can be thankful for in our lives. I can honestly say this group of young ladies is a blessing to me as a coach as well as our St. Thomas community. They epitomize the spirit of St. Thomas, as did the spirit of St. Thomas Aquinas, the entrepreneur, who believed in maximizing opportunities.
Our team is continuing to establish our identity and grow together on this journey. We look forward to what lies ahead and the excitement of being all that we are capable of becoming. God bless you and your family this holiday season.
Last Saturday was huge for the Tommie Swimming and Diving teams. We started the weekend with a very competitive meet with St. John’s and St. Ben’s, both were meets that we might have won with just a handful of close races going our way. We trained through this meet, with monster workouts Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and still had almost 100% season’s best performances. I was very proud of the way we competed, and very excited about how fast we are this early.
Then, after singing Christmas Carols on the bus on the way home (a 29 year-old tradition), the team came to my house for an evening of dinner (including Michele’s great shrimp and orzo salad), sandwiches, and tons of cookies (baked Wednesday night by the Cookie Monsters…yet another tradition). Then, more tradition. Each swimmer brought a gift for their Pep Pal, and everyone opened a gag gift. I’ve never heard so much laughter in my living room before. Finally, each Captain was presented with the traditional Swiss Army Knife for their keychain, and the kids presented the coaches with very nice and thoughtful gifts. I’m already assembling the pictures that will go in the digital frame they gave me.
Although this weekend signals the end of competition for fall semester, and our focus shifts a little toward exams, we’re also looking forward–with considerable optimism–to the training that builds toward a great conference meet. More than ever, it looks like we will compete with the best in the conference and return swimmers and divers to the D-III National Championships in Ohio in March. What a Christmas gift that will be.
As many of you know, this is the 75th anniversary of swimming at the University of St. Thomas.
The first historical record of St. Thomas’s participation in intercollegiate swimming or diving was in 1933, in what was then called the college State Meet . No Tommie swimmers scored that year, but there’s evidence found in the school newspaper archives that our school was, at least, represented.
The next year, interest had grown to the point where 23 men went to the athletic director, and received permission to begin practicing at the John Ryan Baths in Minneapolis. They coached themselves, and again swam in the State College Meet. Just two years later, Bob Christensen was hired to coach a team, and within four years, they had St. Thomas’s first conference championship in swimming and diving.
Save the Date!!
We’re going to have an anniversary party on Saturday, February 23, starting at 2:00 PM in the O’Shaughnessy Natatorium, followed by a reception and dinner on campus. That gives plenty of time to meet with old friends for brunch before the meet, then splash in the pool (non-competitive, of course) with the current team, and then share an evening of memories with team members old and new.
We are hoping to have Bob Christensen, the first coach, at the banquet. We’ll have more details to follow, of course, but it should be an evening to remember.
This falls under the category of “ain’t technology amazng?” I’m writing this during at a break between sessions at the U of M Aquatic Center, which is the only building open today on the U of M campus. But while the cold snow is blowing around outisde, the competition is pretty hot inside.
Several teams, like North Dakota and South Dakota, rested and shaved for this meet, hoping to make early cuts. So our kids are running against that level of competition and our best swimmers are holding their own.
Today, as yesteday, we’ve had about 95% seasons-best times, and a handful of lifetime bests, too.
Sydney Kuramoto (100 Back), JoJo Nemec (400 IM), Kelly Tonnemaker (200 Free), Jena Root (200 IM), Pat Hangge (100 Free) and Tony Linn (100 Free) all set lifetime PRs.