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Athlete of the week: Ben Hsiung ʼ18

in Athlete of the Week/Sports by

The Swarthmore men’s swim team wrapped up their dual meet conference season on Saturday with a 121-83 win against Dickinson College. The Garnet finished 6-0 against Centennial Conference opponents, and won their first regular season conference title since 2007. Crucial in the victory was Ben Hsiung ʼ18. The senior leader from Pittsburgh, Pa. won the 200 freestyle in a close finish, out-touching his opponent by 0.14 seconds. The Garnet host their final home meet this Saturday at Ware Pool and then will race into the Centennial Conference Championships the following weekend at Franklin and Marshall College.

Jack Corkery: What is your major, and what made you decide to pursue it?

Ben Hsiung: I’m a chemistry major.  I initially only took chem classes for pre-med requirements, but liked Orgo 1 and loved Orgo 2 because of Professor Paley. I really enjoy how complicated molecules can be produced through a series of logical, and at times elegant, steps.  

JC: What made you decide to attend Swat?

BH: I decided to attend Swarthmore because I knew I could pursue my academic ambitions fully while being a swimmer as well. During my recruiting visit, the close bonds between the swimmers on the team made a deep impression on me, and I was impressed by the support they provided for one another.

JC: What is your favorite event, and why?

BH: My favorite event is the 50 free. I’m not particularly good at it and until this year was never allowed to swim it because there are other events I’m better at, which may be why I like it so much. The 50 is my favorite because it is short and relatively painless. I normally swim 100s and 200s after which I feel nauseous, but the 50 is great because you feel fine after.

JC: How was the winter break training trip?

BH: The training trip was a lot of fun. It was great getting to spend time with teammates just training and not having to worry about school. It was a great opportunity to bond with the team, especially the freshmen I don’t know as well. It was very beneficial in terms of training, since we all put a lot of work in, and the team definitely got stronger and faster from it.

JC: What are your personal and team goals for the remainder of the season?

BH: The team goal is the same it is every year, to beat Gettysburg and win conferences. On a personal level, I hope to go best times in the 100 and 200 back, since I haven’t gone best times in those events since freshman year.

 

Athlete of the week: Charles Yang ʼ19

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Charles Yang, a junior standout hailing from Naperville, Illi. has started off the 2017-18 Men’s Swim season hot. Yang primarily focuses on the 100-yard freestyle, 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard backstroke, and the 50-yard backstroke for his events. In a recent Dec. 2 meet against Ursinus College, Yang finished first overall in the 50-yard freestyle, with an impressive time of 21.86 seconds, just 0.13 seconds off of his personal best in that event. The men’s team is currently 4-0 and seems to be on track to try and repeat as Centennial Conference champions. The team is back in action at West Chester University on Dec. 8.

Ping Promrat: What is your intended major, and what motivated you to pursue it?

Charles Yang: I am a math major and a psychology minor. It is kind of nerdy, but I’m really interested in math. I think it’s extremely applicable to a lot of different professional fields, which is nice for someone like me, who is not completely sure what he wants to do. I’ll be done with my math major after this semester, which is really nice.

PP: What got you into swimming as a kid? What inspired you to pursue swimming at Swarthmore?

CY: My parents forced me to do swimming. I hated it, and it sucked when I started. To be honest, it really is a grind all the time. I was really lucky to be recruited by a school like Swarthmore, and although it might be hard, I absolutely love my team, so I’m glad I stuck with it.

PP: What is your favorite and least favorite part about being a student athlete?

CY: Being a student-athlete at Swarthmore is really about balancing the time you spend on your respective sport with the time you spend on the academics here. While it’s tough, and I’m always really tired, I hope that participating in a sport at the collegiate level will pay off in terms of life experiences.

PP: What are your personal goals and goals for the team for this year?

CY: Personally, I hope to make nationals in my events. As a team, I hope we get two relays to nationals. This would mean we would send at least eight people to nationals, which would be fantastic. We are currently ranked in the top 20 in the nation. We just made it into the top 16 for relays, so it is very possible.

PP: What is your favorite swim team tradition?

CY: We do a cheer before every single meet, regardless if it is a home meet or an away meet. When we are at home, it goes something like this: “Whose house is it? This is our house. We must protect this house.”

PP: If you could change one thing about Swarthmore, what would it be and why?

CY: I don’t know who I am to say what things should or shouldn’t be changed about Swarthmore, but something I think that really bothers me is the disconnect between the student-athlete and non-athlete population. I wish there were more respect for the athletic community, and the time and commitment that I know that I put into my sport.

Swat Swim dives into their season

in Men/Sports/Winter/Women by

Fall sports are officially over, paving the way for winter sports to take center stage here at Swarthmore. Among these winter sports, the Swarthmore Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams seem to be emerging as strong contenders in their respective conferences. Going into December, both teams are currently undefeated, Men 3-0 and Women 4-0,  and are hoping to continue that streak as the season continues. With a little less than three months and eight more meets left in the season, Swat Swim believe their hard work and sense of team unity will be enough to carry them to the Centennial Conference Championships.

After winning the 2017 Centennial Conference Championship in style, Men’s Swim hope to defend their title this year and go back-to-back. So far, the team seems on track to do just that. Having swum and won three meets, Men’s Swim are working hard to ensure another victory. When asked if winning the 2017 Conference Championship has put any added pressure on his team, Jeff Tse ʼ19 curtly responded no. His lack of concern about pressure shows his confidence in his teammates as well as in himself. He did elaborate about how his team stays excited about swimming throughout the entire winter season.

We stick together and motivate each other,” said Tse. Hopefully this motivated and tight-knit team will be able to continue breaking school records and be a contender for another championship. If you want to see this championship team in action, the team’s next meet is at home versus Ursinus College on Dec. 2 at 11 a.m.  

Swarthmore Women’s Swim Team have also started off their year incredibly fierce with four conference wins. Finishing third last year at the conference finals, Women’s Swim hope to come back this year even stronger. Sophie Moody ʼ19 elaborated on the team’s goals for this season.

“This season, we hope to go undefeated in dual meets and place within the top two teams at conferences. Other than working hard in the pool and the weight room, we’ve really been working on keeping up our team energy, cheering each other on, and holding each other accountable, and we plan on continuing this momentum and hard work as we progress through the season,” said Moody.

This goal seems like a reasonable endeavour considering how well the season has started out. Having lost only four seniors last year and added six freshmen this year, Women’s Swim seems to be set up for a terrific year. Kalli Segel ʼ20 is also looking forward to the conference championships and believes that the team can move up in the rankings this year. The winter season is one of the longest sports seasons at Swarthmore, so Women’s Swim has to find a way to motivate one another to stay strong through each early morning lift and grueling swim practice. Sophie Moody ʼ19 expanded on how she and her teammates stays focused before each meet.

“Before every meet we all get breakfast together as a team at Sharples before we head to the bus or the pool to start warm-up. Also, as a women’s team, we take turns making little goodie bags for each other filled with snacks, toys, and always tons of temporary tattoos. We spend the time right before we start warm-ups to get all tatted up in matching temporary tats for the meet, ” said Moody.

It is this type of motivation as well as working towards a realistic team goal that will help Women’s Swim come back to conferences even stronger this year.

If you want to see this motivated and talented team compete, come out to Ware pool, Saturday Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. to see the Garnet face off against Ursinus College.  Both teams hope that they can continue to make a splash in the Centennial Conference.

Teams look ahead

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Hannah Lichtenstein — c. Athletics
Hannah Lichtenstein ’17 was impressive last year for women’s soccer, earning Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year.

In a year that featured many championship runs and a few last place finishes, 2015 certainly had no shortage of individual Garnet accomplishments. From Wesley Fishburn ’17 shattering the Centennial Conference single season hit record (59 hits) to Osazenoriuwa Ebose ’15 cementing her place as the number one ranked shot-putter in Division III sports, individual efforts increased ten-fold.

 Naturally, with certain individuals elevating their play, the teams are the main beneficiaries. One team in particular that capitalized on individual performances was the women’s soccer team, which won its first Centennial Conference championship. Led by midfielder, Emma Sindelar ’15, the school’s record holder in goals (38), assists (21) and points (97), the team won three playoff games including an exciting final match where they defeated rival Johns Hopkins in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.

 Though Sindelar, a four-time member of the All-Centennial Conference First Team, might have been the most decorated member of the team, Ellen Bachmannhuff ’15, Miranda Saldivar ’17 and Caroline Khanna ’17 played key roles in the championship run. In fact, they were all named to the All-Centennial Conference Honorable Mention squad. However, Sindelar was not alone on the First Team – center forward Hannah Lichtenstein ’17, the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year, joined her.

 In addition to garnering those two accolades, Lichtenstein was awarded the Eleanor Kay Hess award as the best Swarthmore sophomore female athlete. Lichtenstein was shocked when she found out she won the award. But, she quickly acknowledged that her individual success would not have been possible without a strong supporting cast.

 “I could not have done it without [my teammates],” she said. “When it comes to being a forward and scoring goals, you need people giving you the ball in the right spaces and at the right times. We had an incredible midfield that did that. Their work last year made everything possible.”

 Though the soccer team will lose Bachmanhuff and Sindelar to graduation, the team expects new faces to step up and, ultimately, take home another conference title.

 However, the soccer team isn’t the only one attempting to go back to back. This year, Liam Fitzstevens ’17 will be trying to do that in more ways than one. By the conclusion of the 2015 swimming season, the backstroke specialist etched his name into the Swarthmore record books: not one, not two, but eight times. In addition to establishing school records, Fitzstevens broke the Centennial Conference record in the 200 m backstroke (1:48.74) and earned a trip to the DIII National tournament.

 Although Fitzstevens was the only team member to qualify and had to make the trip to Texas alone he managed to tie his personal best and school records in the 200 m backstroke.

 “Being able to represent Swarthmore at the national level was really exciting for me and also really humbling,” Fitzstevens said. “But, I think it’s a good stepping-stone for what I want to do and what other people want to do on the team.”

 With a new coach and many returning contributors, Fitzstevens is hopeful that this year some of his teammates will make the trip with him. However, for Fitzstevens, this year is a little different. First, he is a captain, second he has a target on his back, and third, he won the 2015 Robert Dunn award as Swarthmore’s best male sophomore. Having earned the respect of his teammates, the conference and the members of the Swarthmore community, we should all eagerly await what type of campaign Fitzstevens and the swim team will have this season.

 Although Fitzstevens and Lichtenstein are returning, the eight other student-athletes who won Swarthmore awards graduated with the class of 2015. Those students are Sindelar, Ebose, Chastity Hopkins (volleyball/basketball), Amanda Beebe (golf), Jonas Oppenheimer (cross country/track and field), Michael Superdock (soccer), Chris Thompson (lacrosse) and Karl Barkley (basketball).

 Of the list, one of the most integral players to his team’s success was Karl Barkley, his team’s only senior. Not only did Barkley provide invaluable leadership, but he (and Coach Landry Kosmalski) helped turn the basketball program around from one of the worst in the league to a budding playoff contender. Even though Barkley’s void may be a large one to fill, this year the team has four returning starters and remains a very tight knit group.

 Similar to the men’s team, the women’s team also graduated two key components: Hopkins and Elle Larsen. This year, Larsen’s void has the potential to be a gaping hole for the team. Larsen finished her career fifth in Swarthmore history in points (1,627) and tied for first in field goal percentage (.498). Not to mention, she averaged 21.0 ppg. That being said, it’s not to say the team will not recover from losing Larsen. Point guard Jessica Jowdy ’16, who will be team captain for the second year in a row, put up big numbers last year and is primed for another stellar season.

Weekend Roundup

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Men’s and Women’s swimming win first season match against McDaniel

Saturday, both the men’s and women’s swim teams crushed McDaniel in their at-home conference opener, defeating the Green Terrors with a score of 124-75 and 130-69 respectively.

Sophomore captain Liam Fitzstevens ’17 led the men’s team to victory by taking first in both the 200 Individual Medley and 100-yard backstroke events as well as contributing to the 200 medley relay with three other teammates. Fitzstevens was also recently named the Centennial Conference Men’s Swimmer of the Week.

“I was thrilled to have won the 200 IM and backstroke, but I was most excited by how the team did as a whole,” Fitzstevens said. “The freshmen had a great first meet.”

The women’s team also enjoyed the benefits of new blood as Sydney Andersen ’18 placed first in both the 500 and 1,000 yard freestyle events. “I think everyone would agree that it was a very successful meet,” Andersen commented. “There were a lot of close races as well as a lot of good energy both on deck and behind the blocks.”

Hopefully the energy continues as both the men’s and women’s teams jump back in the pool for their second at-home conference match this Saturday against Franklin & Marshall.

Field Hockey concludes tough season

The field hockey team brought one of their toughest seasons to an end as they fell to Haverford 11-2 in a home game this Saturday during Garnet Weekend. The final match against the ’Fords resulted in a conference score of 1-9, signifying how challenging the fall season has been for the Garnet.

“We have had an incredibly tough season, the most difficult that I have ever seen in the program,” said Abigail Lauder ’15. “I’m proud of the team for keeping their heads up in spite of this and working to improve from one game to the next.”

The Garnet’s match against Bryn Mawr on October 29 coincided with senior day as the sole senior on the team, Lauder, was recognized for her contributions to the program before the start of their single home-game win.

“I feel lucky to have gotten to play with these girls for so long,” Lauder said. “I’m excited to see what great things they will do as they gain experience.”

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Place Fourth at Centennial Championships

The men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled away from home over Garnet Weekend to compete in the Centennial Championship at Haverford. With a total of nine colleges competing, Swarthmore placed fourth in both the men’s and women’s teams, following Haverford, Johns Hopkins and Dickinson.

Erick White ’15 finished first for the Garnet and 11th overall, marking one of his best performances all season. “My performance on Saturday was one of my best races, not necessarily for time, but for how I raced it,” White explained. “I went out strong… and still had plenty left by the end for a kick that allowed me to pass several people.”

The women’s team also proved to be a force to be reckoned with as their team leader, Indy Reid-Shaw ’17 placed first for the Garnet and 11th overall as well.

“It speaks to our training that we are peaking at the end of season,” Reid-Shaw explained.

“I am a little apprehensive because of losing of some of our top runners,” White said. “But hopefully one or two should be back for Regionals and that will make us an even bigger threat.”

The men’s and women’s teams compete in the NCAA Regionals on Saturday, November 15.

Men’s and women’s swimming primed to stay on top

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Swimming Thumbnail

Swarthmore’s swim team has been one of the College’s top athletic programs in recent years. The team’s 44 All-American awards since 1984 rank well ahead of any other Swarthmore program. With national recognition comes high expectations, making Swarthmore’s 5th  place women’s finish and 6th place men’s finish in the Centennial Conference championships appear disappointing on the surface.

Upon closer inspection, however, Swarthmore’s performance at this weekend’s conference championships was one of its strongest of this season. As John Flaherty ’14 explained, “While our final standings are lower than we had expected, we all still consider the season a success.” Maggie Regan ’14 echoed Flaherty’s sentiments, adding, “The team performed extremely well as a whole and everyone should be proud of themselves for their accomplishments.”

Head coach Sue Davis emphasized the records the team set this weekend, suggesting that the team’s standing was primarily a result of especially strong competition in the conference. “I don’t care where we finish,” Davis said. The coach, who just finished her 41st season as head women’s swim coach (and 32nd as head men’s coach), highlighted the weekend’s accomplishments, saying that despite competing in an “extremely competitive conference, the women broke five college records, set two conference records and made one [NCAA Championships] B cut and the men broke nine college records and made three B cuts.

Of particular significance last weekend was that four swimmers turned in times that qualified them for B cuts. The distinction means that John Flaherty ’14, Liam Fitzstevens ’17, Andrew Steele ’17 and Supriya Davis ’15 are in contention for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The three men achieved fast enough times to qualify for B cuts in the 100 fly, 400 IM and 200 back, while Davis qualified in the 100 and 200 fly.

Davis continued her dominance of the fly events, winning both for the third consecutive season. The junior pair of Davis and Kate Wiseman ’15 has largely carried the women’s team the past three years. Davis earned All-American honors last season and has shown no signs of slowing down. For her part, Wiseman has continued to set records in the highly competitive freestyle, breaking her own conference record in the 100 freestyle this weekend.

The duo spent the fall semester abroad, missing substantial training time as well as the first part of the team’s season. Davis called the women’s return “a highlight for the season.” Affectionately calling Wiseman “Kate the Great,” Sue Davis described Wiseman’s performance this season as “amazing.”

While the return of Davis and Wiseman boosted the women in the second half of the season, the high point of the men’s team’s season was its December 7th victory over Ursinus. Sue Davis called the meet a “season maker,” adding that it was “one of the best meets I have been to in my life at Swarthmore.” Swarthmore edged the Bears by the narrow margin of 109-96, in a meet that was not decided until the final race, the 200 freestyle. Davis lauded the men, who posted eleven personal best times that day, saying, “our guys just swam phenomenally.”

Another bright spot for the Garnet this season was the continued improvement of nearly all the team’s swimmers. Rodrigo Hernandez ’15, Michael McVerry ’16, Zach Gavin ’14, Josh Foster ’16, Julia Anderson ’15, Eliana Cohen ’17, Lily Tyson ’17, Zora Kosoff ’17, Sarah Eppley ’14, Margaret Luo ’16, Katie Warren ’15 and Anne Zhang ’17 all set personal bests at the championship meet. Although not all of these swimmers earned points for Swarthmore in meets this season, many of them will be relied on in coming years. Their improvement is a promising sign for the team’s future success, a point not lost on Davis, who said she was “so proud” of these swimmers.

As with any college team, Swarthmore will be forced to say goodbye to several impactful swimmers. For the men, Flaherty leads a graduating class that also includes Peter Ballen, Gavin, Henry Kietzman, Stan Le, Brian Nadel, Cyrus Nasseri and Fredrick Toohey. Davis singled out the All-Centennial Conference Honorable Mention Flaherty, calling him “the point mean on our successes over the last four years.” Reflecting on his career, Flaherty chose to focus on his teammates, saying that, “While my personal successes in the pool are certainly very important to me, in the long run the relationships I’ve formed with my teammates and the experiences we’ve had will produce the longest lasting memories.”

On the women’s side, Regan, Erin Lowe and Becky Teng highlight a five women graduating class that also includes Eppley and Laura Fitzgerald. Davis complimented Teng and Lowe on their versatility, saying that they “can swim any event and swim it well.”

Regan enjoyed a strong finale by placing second in the 200 breaststroke and earning All-Centennial Conference Honorable Mention honors. She called the performance “a great way to end my career,” adding that, “I was really proud of myself for not giving up and pushing through the hard times and swims.” While relishing her individual achievements, Regan struck a similar tone to Flaherty when speaking about her fondest memories of being on the team, saying, “It is hard to put into words the family that Swat swim has given me here at Swarthmore, but they are there alongside me whether I am dancing like a fool on the pool deck or crying because a race hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to.”

Fortunately, the team is laden with capable underclassmen poised to keep Swarthmore competitive in the absence of these swimmers. While several young Garnet swimmers enjoyed strong campaigns, the rookie seasons of Fitzstevens and Steele stood out. Fitzstevens’ blistering times have earned him the nickname “Johnny Backstroke,” and Flaherty believes that the two “are going to be among the all-time best in Swarthmore history.”

Davis added that several of the young swimmers “may have already made the jump” to being competitive in the conference. Along with Fitzstevens and Steele, Davis cited Steve Sekula ’17, Sam Tomlinson ’15 and Hernandez as candidates for significant contributions next season. Davis also has high expectations for women Emma Eppley ’17, Abigail Byrne ’17, Erica Flor ’17, Nikkia Miller ’16 and Eva Winter ’16. The Garnet will return six All-Centennial Conference swimmers, including Davis, Flor, Miller and Wiseman (First Team) and Fitzstevens and Steele (Honorable Mention).

With a strong core of returners, the swim program appears primed to remain strong, just as it has done in the wake of the departure of the other 40 senior classes Davis has waved goodbye to during her tenure. Describing how she manages to amass consistently strong teams, Davis says she has gotten “fortunate and lucky with recruiting.” More importantly, however, Davis tells opposing coaches that “we don’t get [the good swimmers], we make them.” Expectations remain high for Swarthmore swimming. As Davis put it, “Anybody who is not a graduating senior needs to be prepared to step up, lead and swim fast.”

Athletes abroad: unique challenges and unforgettable opportunities

in Sports/Uncategorized by
Darrel Hunter and Joe Hagedorn competed in the Copa de España this fall while they studied abroad in Europe.
Darrel Hunter and Joe Hagedorn competed in the Copa de España while they studied abroad. Photo Courtesy of Darrel Hunter.

As many Swarthmore student-athletes know, when returning from summer and winter breaks, there is a high possibility part of the team will be missing. Each semester, the school sends students all across the world as part of the study abroad program. A good number of these students happen to be athletes.

Before deciding to study abroad, there is a considerable decision to be made on the part of the student-athlete. While a great cultural and academic experience surely awaits them if they choose to travel, it comes with the tradeoff of giving up off-season team activities and practices.

The way of life in other countries can be incredibly different from what we have here in the United States, and especially what we have come to know at Swarthmore. All students must adapt to new languages, foods and local customs. But there is more than that for an athlete.

It can be challenging for athletes to stay on top of their game when their whole world is different. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the new experiences that present themselves: meeting new people, traveling to various countries and trying to soak in the sights, all while balancing the course load of the program.

It is a true testament of passion for those athletes that maintain their athletic lifestyle abroad. On top of these distractions it can also be difficult to find a gym, a field or any sports venue, for that matter, in a foreign city.

But that is one of the unique and interesting aspects of Swarthmore and its athletics’ department. Most coaches leave the decision to study abroad in their players’ hands and some actively encourage it. Most surprisingly, perhaps, is the permission given to some winter athletes to study abroad for a semester. This is especially shocking because the winter sports season overlaps both the fall and spring semester. Inevitably, a winter athlete studying abroad will miss some portion of the season.

Even so, the Swarthmore swim teams saw six of its members choose to study abroad in the fall. This means these athletes missed the entire off-season training program as well as a few early season swim meets.

While head coach Sue Davis knows exactly what it means for her athletes to go abroad, she ultimately leaves the decision to them. Davis says, “To go abroad or not to go abroad is the decision of the individual alone.”

When asked about the challenges studying abroad poses for the coach, Davis didn’t seem overly concerned. “We had 5 women abroad and one man. Any time that people are abroad they are missed.  We have lived through it before and I am sure we will live through it again.”

Even the lack of training her athletes were going to get abroad had no impact on the way Davis went about her business. If the swimmers have a chance to train abroad or at home over break, the team will be better off for it, but either way they will be back in the pool hard at work once they rejoin the team.

Knowing she was going to get a handful of athletes back mid-season was no cause for worry. Davis says, “Getting athletes back mid-season is no different than returning students in the fall.”

With this opportunity put in front of them, swimmers Supriya Davis ’15 and Katie Wiseman ’15 made the decision to study abroad knowing they would miss out on some team activities. Not only are both winter athletes, but each has been formerly named to the All-Centennial Conference First Team.

Wiseman studied in Madrid, Spain with Hamilton College’s Academic Year for the semester, in part to help her complete her requirements for minoring in Spanish. Knowing she was missing out on training with her team, she made the effort to stay in the best shape she could.

Wiseman found a local gym that she tried to visit as much as she could. On the swim front, she did the best she could to try and swim 2,000 to 5,000 meters in a week. Knowing it posed too much of a challenge to keep up with the workouts her teammates were doing back home, Wiseman did enough “to keep a feel for the water.”

When she returned home from Spain, Wiseman met up with her club team to get some added workouts before the always-challenging swim team winter break trip in Puerto Rico. She admits she was initially nervous when rejoining the team on the trip because she didn’t know how her body was going to hold up.

Luckily for Wiseman the work she put in abroad and before the trip proved to be beneficial. “I knew I wasn’t going to be where I normally am in January. It certainly wasn’t easy to jump right back in, but I was able to do more than I thought I would be able to do.”

Much like Wiseman, Davis had a similar experience in balancing the excitement of being abroad with the focus of athletic training. Davis ultimately decided to spend her semester abroad because she viewed it as a must. She said, “I have been swimming my entire life, whereas studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Davis spent her semester at University College London. Similar to her teammate, Davis found a local pool and was able to swim for about three hours a week. Upon returning home, she also joined up with her club team to get as much time in the water as possible before Puerto Rico.

The 15 practices in nine days didn’t make returning to swimming very easy, but Davis was able to hold her own. Perhaps the most noteworthy experience of returning mid-season was the strangeness of going on the “training trip and meet[ing] all of the freshmen for the first time.”

In their first meet back, Davis and Wiseman both placed first in an individual event and Davis also helped propel her relay team into first.

One Swarthmore lacrosse student-athlete, Darrel Hunter ’15, was actually able to compete on a few lacrosse teams while abroad. The first was the Blues in the English Premier League. While Hunter noticed a big difference in the pace and style of play, the overall experience was still highly beneficial.

The talent level was surprisingly high, which helped Hunter stay on top of his game. He says, “I was lucky in that the club I played for had 6 guys who played NCAA lacrosse in the States, including former All-American Trinity midfielder Matt Cohen, and we were coached by the English national team coach Matt Bagley.” The combination of talent and coaching currently has the Blues at the top of the southern half of the Premier League.

Aside from the talent in England, Hunter noted the level of camaraderie amongst the teams that competed. After each of the games, no matter the result, the home team would always host a meal for the visiting team. At their respective fields, clubs had pubs they would use for these post-game meals. This was yet another way Hunter feels he was really able to immerse himself in the culture.

Additionally, Hunter had experiences playing for the Madrid Bears with teammate Joe Hagedorn ’15 in the Copa de España and trying out for the Spanish national team. While the talent level was substantially below that in England, Hunter took his opportunity on the Bears to learn about the Spanish culture.

Because Hunter’s mother was born in Spain, he was eligible to tryout for the national team. He said the idea of representing his country gave him the motivation he needed to work hard enough to make the team. With his success in Spain, Hunter will be representing Spain in this summer’s World Championships in Denver, CO.

Overall Hunter feels lucky that he was provided the opportunity to study abroad in the fall. His experiences in England and Spain not only gave him venues to play the sport he loves in a foreign country, but it enabled him to familiarize himself with cultures he might not normally have come to know.

All things said, Swarthmore’s athletics department certainly gets it right in letting students study abroad. The experiences of Hunter and Hagedorn, combined with the immediate success Davis and Wiseman enjoyed upon returning, validates the department’s liberal study abroad policy.

Hell week in paradise: Swimming trains in Puerto Rico

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Over this past winter break, the Swarthmore Men’s and Women’s Swim teams embarked on a ten day-long intensive training trip to Puerto Rico. Aimed at preparing the team for the approaching conference finals, this trip has been a long standing tradition since the 1980’s.

Prior to Puerto Rico, the team would make an annual seventeen hour drive to the “Sunshine State” of Florida, leaving them exhausted from the long trip and facing temperatures comparable to those in Philly. Paid for by both the swim teams’ fundraising efforts and contributions from the swimmers themselves, Puerto Rico has become the perfect location for the team to torture itself.

“We get three weeks of work done in 10 days,” Head Coach Sue Davis remarked on the trip. Practices at the long course 50 meter pool (more than double the length of the Swarthmore swimming pool) at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao were exponentially more demanding than those done at home. “If we didn’t have the sun and the change of atmosphere, we would probably go crazy because of all of the swimming,” women’s swimmer Briana Schoenek ‘17 admitted.

Rising and shining at 5:00 in the morning and enduring an additional practice later in the day gave the swimmers little time to recover. In addition, the practices included a combination of both swimming and dry land strength training exercises. “The key to training well on this trip is to ignore the fact that you’re really tired and sore, and just push through,” Davis continued. “Overall they practiced extremely well.”

Now that their training is complete, Davis explained the importance of tapering. Tapering allows the swimmers’ bodies to recover from the intensity of Puerto Rico. “I’ve probably torn their bodies up pretty well, so tapering will give them a chance to recover,” Davis said. Tapering began last Monday when students returned to Swarthmore and will continue up until conferences begin in approximately four weeks. The team will start to intensively rest nine days before conferences, ensuring that their bodies are in peak condition for competition.

The most important thing for the team in the next five weeks is to get proper rest, avoid getting sick and abstaining from party festivities; paint or no paint. “Our times will improve for sure,” Davis continued, “We’ll be swimming tired for the next couple of weeks, so it may not show in our times now, but by the time conference comes our times will improve.”

“Puerto Rico helped a lot,” Davis added, “The training trip is kind of what most teams call ‘hell week’. We just try to bring their hell week to the Caribbean.”

Well-rested or not, Swarthmore showed no ill-effects from its grueling trip, handily defeating Cabrini in Saturday’s meet at Ware Pool. Kate Wiseman ’15 quickly shook off the cobwebs from a semester abroad, winning both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke, while also anchoring the victorious medley relay team of Wiseman, Erica Flor ’17, Nikkia Miller ’16 and Rebecca Teng ’14. Erin Lowe ’14 was also a multiple winner for Swarthmore, claiming victories in both the 100-yard freestyle and the 200-yard fly.

On the men’s side, Andrew Steele ’17 stole the show, setting a college record in the 100 IM, posting a time of 55.87 seconds in the time trial. Steele also won the 200-yard freestyle, while Samuel Tomlinson ’15 and Lincoln Harris ’17 earned victories in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard breaststroke, respectively.

Swarthmore will next hit the pool when it hosts Centennial Conference foe Gettysburg. The meet will begin at 2:00 p.m. at Ware Pool.

 

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