The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams closed the 2015-16 season finishing seventh and eighth, respectively, at NCAC Championships.
“Conference is a lot more stressful than dual meets,” Patrick Hollenbeck, ’17, said. “We did well getting up for each other, coming together as a team and it was a lot more fun.”
Hollenbeck qualified for C finals in the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly, finishing first in backstroke with a 2:02.38 and third in fly with a 2:04.81.
“I swam the 200 fly which I haven’t swam since high school and half the team was standing at the end of my lane cheering me on,” Hollenbeck said. “Everyone got up for me when I was nervous and ended up dropping 10 seconds.”
Alison Herlitzka, ’16, said the team wanted what was best for everyone and got behind each person when they swam.
“It was my last meet so I had nothing to lose, I left it all in the pool and was excited to be done,” Herlitzka said. “From the beginning of the season, I had a more positive attitude for my last year and the team atmosphere was more enjoyable.”
Herlitzka finished sixth in the B final for the 200 fly with a time of 2:18.11 and a sixth place finish in the C final of the 200 breast with a time of 2:34.60.
“The team did a really nice job of taking out races and getting up to support each other, especially on the second and third day,” said Head Coach Kirk Kumbier. “The first day, you’re getting into the meet and some people are hitting it right away, others are trying to get into it. We did a nice job of building momentum and getting after it.”
Going into conferences, the team pulls back on intense training and focuses more on the specifics of races.
“Preparing is a year long process, we go through different phases throughout the year where we’re building them up at the beginning as they transition into school and then transition into swimming,” Kumbier said. “We’ll build up from there, all the way through our winter invitational where we’ll take a little bit of rest. Then we go to Florida for a training trip where we work really hard, it’s the hardest training they have all year. After that we bring them way down and do a taper. I like to think of it as resting phase or a fine tuning phase.”
Hollenbeck said this year he focused more on taking care of his body, resting and stretching outside of practice which lead to his best conference performance.
“We keep the intensity up and practices are still hard, but we have more energy,” Hollenbeck said. “There’s more focus on technique instead of yardage so we have time to recover.”
Herlitzka added that the taper helps the team physically rest as well as mentally prepare for the meet.
“We know we’re resting and we’re focusing on preparing to swim races. Then when we get behind the block, we’re not thinking and just swimming,” Herlitzka said.
Kumbier said his favorite part of the championship weekend is seeing who has breakthrough performances.
“As a coach we give the structure, the framework that we believe will help provide success in the end but it comes down to the individual athlete and what they put in is going to determine what they get out,” Kumbier said.
Following conferences, some members of the team will be competing in the Kenyon “Fast Chance” Invitational.
“I love doing it and swimming off events than I usually do at conferences,” Hollenbeck said. “It’s fun to see where I would have placed and dropping times with no pressure.”
Kumbier said the meet gives those that go an opportunity to race again and lower their times.
“It’s always a good thing to get up and race when you’re rested,” Kumbier said. “It’s great to take advantage of that opportunity even if it’s your third, fourth, fifth best event, or trying another event you haven’t tried in a while and you want to race it. In addition to giving some individuals that may be close to a national cut or close to a lifetime best a shot to go after it in their main events.”
The “Fast Chance” meet will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Kenyon College at 1:30 p.m.