This past weekend, the Women’s Swim Team competed in the Centennial Conference Championships at Franklin & Marshall to culminate their 2016-2017 season. The weekend was filled with nerves and challenges, but the team performed well, finishing as one of the top three teams in the conference.
Ashley Hwang ’18, a butterfly and breaststroke competitor for the Women’s team, discussed her thoughts on the Centennial Conference Championships and the season as a whole.
“The schedule was hectic and much more stressful depending on how much you were in the water,” Hwang said.
The Women’s team had a schedule packed with hourly engagements from Thursday night to this past Sunday night. Utterly exhausted, she explained how the weekend really took it out of the team. In order to prepare for the physical demand of the weekend, the squad exercised a tapering period to take a physical and psychological rest before peak competition at the Conference Championships. Tapering is the practice of reducing training volume, frequency, and intensity of practices leading up to an important meet.
When giving a summary of the team’s emotions going into the weekend’s events, she described how Ursinus would be the favorite for the Women’s side. They have had recorded an impressive four consecutive Centennial Conference titles. The event that affirmed their dominance, to Hwang, was when they won the 400 Yard Medley Relay with a time of 3:50.30. Even though Ursinus dominated, defeating the second place team by 278 points, for Swarthmore, Gettysburg was the real competition. Swarthmore’s Women’s team had lost in a very tight meet during their tapering period (an unusual time in their schedule) and were looking for reprisal. Unfortunately, they lost by a remarkably close margin, but Hwang is optimistic that next year will bring better results.
“We are only graduating four seniors this year and eight freshman traveled with the Centennial Conference Championship Team. That’s indicative of a young team that will continue to make a positive impact as it gains more seniority,” she claimed.
Even though the seniors have had a profound impact on the team, Hwang says there’s hope for the future. Clare Cushing ’20 earned the Top Rookie award for the contest and all eight freshman performed well. It’s known that schools in the Conference such as Dickinson and Gettysburg heavily recruit, but Swarthmore also attracts quality recruits from all around the country.
“There is a profound connection that swimmers have when seeing each other at meets and competing for the same goal,” Hwang said.
Even though swimmers may not see each other day-to-day, they recognize familiar faces when teams face off in regular or postseason meets. There are also a few local swimmers on the Centennial Conference teams that know each other from past encounters. Hwang noted how there are many friendships within the Conference despite the intense rivalry between teams.
The Swarthmore Swim season is long and arduous. With the season all wrapped up, Hwang and the team can finally catch a break. The season began for swimmers as soon they set foot on campus in the form of captains practices until mid-February began with the conclusion of Centennial Conference Championships. Practice times can span from early morning, around 6:00am, to late at night, around 12:00am. One could only imagine how much chlorine the swimmers are seeing in a given week.
With the 2016-2017 season all wrapped up, the Women’s Swim team will miss the passionate camaraderie that they have experienced for the past few months. Over the summer and leading into the fall, they will have to train hard in order to one-up their standing this season. A positive outlook for the team and for the next incoming swimming class is enough to believe that the Women’s Swim team should feel optimistic about their 2017-2018 campaign.