The Conn and Wellesley meet was a bit all over the place. Several were overcoming illness, others felt off (taper will do that), others were outstanding. I long for everyone to be performing well, and for things to go smoothly - especially with only 11(W) and 17(M) days out of the meet. But worries can easily disappear when you remember the old adage that the work is already done at this point. And on that note, I couldn't be happier with the work that was done this year. Couple of things I want to congratulate the program on as we head into the final stages of the season...
1) Tremendous preseason work. There is no doubt that the hours spent preparing for the season in the pool and the weight room through the months of September and October paid HUGE dividends from November through January. Not only was the training better, but consequently, the team morale and chemistry was fantastic. I believe there is a direct relationship between a team that can handle the difficult training I ask for, and a team that is happy. They just wouldn't have been smiling if they continually failed in practice... and they wouldn't have succeeded in practice without doing the work necessary on their own in the Fall. It is a great lesson to learn.
2) Thank you Sunny and 75º in Florida. Tremendous training trip - see point one for more reasons why. And yes, the weather was great too. I've gotten to the point where I consider us lucky when Florida weather works out. More importantly though, the team did the little things right all trip. From detail work in practice to cheering and encouraging each other... the support, enthusiasm, and smiles were noticeable - and that can be the difference for a program that leaps forward instead of just taking another step.
3) Dual Meet Victories. We won more meets this year. Enough said.
4) CBB title for the women. First time in 8 years I think. Well done! I know there are a lot of ladies that didn't get to experience that title, and I know we wouldn't have done it without their help along the way. The team and I can only say thanks - and tell you it feels great!
5) Lifetime bests. They started in the first dual meet for us... and there has been at least one in every meet all year long. Actually, at first I found this kinda weird. Lifetime bests usually take a taper and shave to occur for most college swimmers. But this year there is no doubt it wasn't weird... it was the combination of great training, experience, and tremendous preparation.
6) Varsity/Pool Records. Two pool records. I expect these. At the beginning of the year I am always thinking ahead to which pool record we might be set during the season. Varsity records? I apologize to say, I don't even have a good grasp on those! My experience has taught me that I should bring our varsity record file to the NESCAC meet in case someone breaks one. I mean, they are the fastest times ever in the HISTORY of the college. This year I think we broke (or tied) 4 varsity records... all of which the team had to tell me about. It started with Kara Leasure's 200 breast, then Won knocked off both the pool and school record the following weekend in the 200 fly. The following week our women's 200 Medley Relay cruised to a victory while sneaking under the varsity record, and then on Saturday Amanda Moore tied the 50 breast school record at Conn. Seriously fun stuff.
As you can tell, we believe that when you look for comfort and confidence heading into a championship meet the best thing to do is reflect on your hard work and successes over the body of the season, not just one particular meet or swim. I have even had athletes under perform in dual meets all year, but all the while everyone knew the work was done right 6 days each week for 16 weeks. That will always trumps 12 meet days. Even injured and abroad athletes have put together a fun NESCAC meet... they have either found comfort in the improvement they are showing, or the knowledge that they have years of experience and knowledge that pays off big when the pressure is on. Honestly, at a basic level it all comes down to the work you believe in.
My natural tendency at this point is to be very nervous for NESCACs.... this year is no different. But!.. I also have a sneaky suspicion some very cool things will happen. I just can't wait to watch them - and see who does what... and who (or how many) are ready to shock us all!