Women's swimming on its last laps

By Caitlin Opperman

Hoping to make a splash at the upcoming MIAC Championships, the women’s swim team is entering its final weeks of training, highly motivated. Macalester is one of 13 teams competing at the MIAC Championships at the University of Minnesota, February 18-20.Although the competition is on the swimmers’ minds, they are placing much of their focus on individual improvement.

“I think Carleton is the most competition,” Hillary Frey ’12 said, “[but] it’s hard to judge swimming in terms of team scores because as long as someone drops time or is happy with their swim, I like to say it’s a good race.”

Frey placed second in the 200 individual medley (IM) at the Jan. 29-30 Macalester Invitational with a time of 2:21:09, 5.4 seconds behind the lead swimmer. She also took third in the 200 backstroke.

Several of her team members have also made waves in the pool this season.

At the Macalester Invitational alone, Karoline Hart ’12 and Grace Fleming ’12 swam their way to victory with five first-place finishes combined. Hart dominated all three breaststroke finals, while Fleming won the 1650-yard freestyle and 500 free events. Clare Pillsbury ’12 took third place in the 400 IM and 100 backstroke, and Kiersten Yeazel ’11 finished third in the 50 butterfly with a time of 28:92, 1.39 seconds behind the top finisher. The team placed third of five teams at the meet overall.

“The Mac Invite got me really excited for conference,” Fleming said. “We had a lot of great swims and exciting races.”

This success bodes well for the championships.

“We have had some great meets; many on the team have posted lifetime best times, or lifetime best un-rested times,” said head coach Bob Pearson, who has coached both the men’s and women’s teams for the past 21 years. “This is great to head into conference on a high note.”

The team began its taper after the Invite, cutting down on the yardage each member swims during practice. Now, preparation extends beyond the pool.

“I have a countdown,” Frey said. “I try to keep up on sleep, drink less coffee, and work on the little things during practice, like technique and breathing. We also make good luck cards for everyone on the team.”

This team spirit will be driving their performance at the MIAC.

“We’ve had a long season, physically and mentally, and we were really supportive of each other the whole time,” Frey said. “We do really fun cheers at the beginning of meets to get us going and do our best to make some noise throughout. It makes a big difference to see your friends cheering for you at the end of your lane.”

Pearson’s goal for the team is simply “to keep on improving in what we do each day.”

“If the team controls the things they can, then swimming fast falls into place,” he said.