Swimming & diving teams prepare for Blue Devil Invite

The men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams will be traveling to Fredonia, New York for the Blue Devil Invite from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4.

According to co-captain Patrick Hollenbeck, ’17, the team has seen improvement every year in its ranking at the the meet, receiving fourth place in 2013, third place in 2014 and second place in 2015.

“This year we’re looking to win it,” Hollenbeck said.

Since the last time they competed in the invite several things have changed for the teams, according to Hollenbeck. One improvement is the number of swimmers the team has to put in the pool, allowing the team to fill more events.

“Instead of having zero to one people make it to finals, we have the chance to get two or three. Unlike in dual meets, having those extra places to get points is what really makes a difference in the end,” Hollenbeck said.

Breaststroker and freestyler Amanda Carroll, ’18, agreed with Hollenbeck and said that she believes the team will also be more prepared due to the variety of skills the swimmers have now in comparison to past years.

“We have a wider range of people that are able to do different events. … I think just because of our team size and how well the freshmen have been doing this year, I think we’re going to do really well,” Carroll said.

The training regimen for the team leading up to the invite has changed from previous years. Coach Kirk Kumbier has taken away the morning practices for the week leading up to the meet so the team can rest, Carroll said. Usually, the team has morning practices three times a week along with a daily afternoon practice throughout the season. Sunday is the only day the team consistently has off practice.

The type of training the team is doing has changed as well, according to Carroll.

We have a wider range of people that are able to do different events. … I think just because of our team size and how well the freshmen have been doing this year, I think we’re going to do really well.

— Amanda Carroll

“We’ve done a lot more sprint work and more power-based drills and work with that, very technique-focused to try and have that carry into our speed,” Carroll said. “And we’ve done a practice every week where [Kumbier] has recorded our times to see where we are.”

Hollenbeck said changes in training will help him improve individually as well. He said he has been used to doing hybrid training for his 200 meter fly and 200 meter backstroke events in years past, but Kumbier has allowed him to do more power-based training this year, which he believes will help him gain speed and improve his times.

“I usually have a slow tempo in those events, but training power has allowed me to pick that up a little bit in the end, because I already know I have the endurance because of all the training we’ve done this year, so increasing my tempo while still having endurance will help my 200 stroke, and I’m really looking forward to that,” Hollenbeck said.  

For breastroker Justin Leary-Bignayan, ’20, the invite is the first overnight meet he will participate in at the college level, and he said it brings both excitement and nervousness—excitement about possibly meeting or breaking personal records and nervousness about possibly not being prepared enough for the meet.

He said college swimming has been a big shift for him from high school.

“I think it’s just like way different coaching and a different environment … and the mentality on the team is way different too,” Leary-Bignayan said.

However, Leary-Bignayan said he is looking forward to traveling and having some time to relax with his team.

“I really like travel meets because you room with a couple of your friends and you kind of just get to mess around in the room, chill, relax, you don’t really have to worry about anything except the meet,” Leary-Bignayan said. “I think travel meets can definitely bring teams closer too, especially because you have to room with people.”

Regardless of how he swims at the meet, Leary-Bignayan said he believes it will be a good way for him to gauge how much he has improved throughout the season.

“I think this meet will be a good check up on how I’m doing … and how much harder I need to work to be ready for conferences,” Leary-Bignayan said.