Swim team breaks bodies, sets records

By Jamie Macpherson

Although the swim team has been doing well this year, it’s been a rough ride. Already halfway through their season, the women (3-1 in dual meets), and the men (1-1) have had to deal with several obstacles such as injuries and low turn-out. In addition, the men’s team has been suffering from a lack of divers, which results in an automatic default in the category. Nevertheless team morale remains staunchly positive. Men’s captain Jeff Yamashita ’11 was pleased with his team’s progress, despite the season’s challenges.

“It’s been a very rough experience, but I feel like our team is coming together,” he said, citing a strong overall commitment to teammates as key in their performance.

He recalled in particular one instance when newcomer Jeff Solazzi ’12 volunteered to dive for the team when no one else would. Unfortunately this initiative led to a ruptured eardrum. As a result, Solazzi won’t be able to compete until after returning from break. “He went beyond the call of duty, in the respect that he was a player committed not only to his own success, but to the success of his team,” Yamashita said of his teammate.

But early season glitches aside, the team is focused on preparing for the conference meet in mid-February which decides who wins the MIAC.

“We’re different than most team sports where when you step on the field you’re starting over,” head coach Bob Pearson explained. “[With swimming] you’re trying to continue to build and reach your peak for conference.” Pearson feels confident his team is headed in the right direction.

“The idea is you have to work up before you work down,” Lydia Bremer ’11 said. “[We’re] beating down our bodies so that they can be rebuilt even stronger.” Bremer highlighted strong contributions across the board, including six returning record-breaking swimmers, and talented incoming first years.

Another frustration for the team is they won’t have their annual January training trip to look forward to this winter. In years past, the team has spent J-term training in warmer waters, such as Puerto Rico or Hawaii. But this year, according to Bremer, Athletic Director Kim Chandler has stated that no team will be traveling outside the region, even though the team offered to pay their own way (Chandler had not responded to an e-mail requesting her comment for this story as of press time). Thus, the team will be reporting back to St. Paul on Jan. 4 for training.

Although the change of location won’t have a direct impact on the team’s ability to perform, Bremer said, it still was disappointing to learn the trip was canceled.

“We usually go on a training trip . so that when our bodies are broken and sore and tired we don’t have any other responsibilities,” Bremer said. “We can just enjoy the nice weather.”

The J-term training is deliberately designed to be brutal in order to allow the swimmers to hone in and make significant improvements to their times. During this time, the team will spend five to six hours in the pool, swimming 1000-1200 yards every day, in addition to lifting weights daily.

“J-term for us is sleep, swim, eat, swim, eat, sleep, and that’s all you do,” Paolo Venneri ’12 said. “We don’t have the energy to do anything else.”

The Scots have one more meet before leaving for winter break. This weekend Mac will be hosting an invitational, competing against schools like Grinnell, St. Catherine and Carleton. The invitational will be the last meet that the juniors going on study abroad will get to swim in this season. This year the team will say goodbye to four juniors: Bremer, Nathan Young, Claire Eder, and Anna Feingold, all of whom have made significant contributions to the team, according to Yamashita.

“We are all going to miss them dearly,” Yamashita said. “Not just because of what they would do well in the pool, but also in our family set up.”

Looking ahead, Yamashita is excited for the rest of the season. “I think our team is poised and ready to make a good run,” he said.