For most people, a 10-day trip to Aruba in January means hot sunny days, white sand beaches and a piña colada or two. “Swimming” entails little more than a midday wade into the Atlantic to cool off from the sun. “Dry land”? Probably a spot on the beach, soaking up the sun.
Swarthmore’s swimmers, however, are not most people, and their ten days in Aruba were far from a vacation. “Being a training trip, it was as much about getting back into shape as it was about the sunshine and beaches,” explained Supriya Davis ’15. Instead of taking the occasional ten minute dip into the ocean, Swarthmore practiced 15 times during their trip to the Caribbean, to go along with daily dry land workouts.
The team uses its annual training trip to optimize its physical conditioning for the remainder of the season, aiming to be prepared to perform at peak level for the Centennial Conference Championships, held annually in late February. The tradeoff of such a strategy is that the team typically returns from the trip fatigued, making the meets immediately following the trip more challenging. Kate Wiseman ’15 explained, “Ten days of hard work means that we are mentally and physically exhausted when we get back, and then we are faced with the challenge of racing when we’re tired.”
Entering their meet against Cabrini last Saturday, Head Coach Sue Davis understood that the team was swimming at less than full strength. “Both [the men’s and women’s] teams are swimming tired,” acknowledged the veteran coach.
With their resounding victories on Saturday, both teams exhibited the skill and mental fortitude necessary to overcome their fatigue and dominate the meet. The women won 119-74, improving their season record to 6-1, while the men’s 127-85 victory improved their record to 5-1.
On the women’s side, Supriya Davis’ three wins paced the Garnet to a sweep of all sixteen events. Davis touched first in the 200 freestyle, the 200 butterfly and the 200 IM, while Wiseman added victories in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events. Two other Garnet swimmers, Jessica Seigel ’16 and Margaret Regan ’14, notched multiple victories as well, while Nikkia Miller ’16, Eva Winter ’16, Becky Teng ’14 and Hannah Gotwals ’13 won individual events.
Another shining beacon of excellence for Swarthmore was the solid all-around performance from Alice Wong ’13, who finished second in both the 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 400 IM. Supriya Davis singled out Wong for her performance, lauding the senior for posting “season best times in the 500 freestyle as well as the 400 IM, one of the hardest events.”
The men were nearly as dominant, winning eleven individual events and sweeping the relay events. Senior Dan Duncan ’13, who secured three individual victories, led the group. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Duncan’s victories was his success in a variety of events, as Duncan prevailed in the 1000 freestyle, the 200 backstroke and the 400 IM. “I usually don’t swim the 1000 or anything backstroke. Saturday was my career finale in [those two] events, so I wanted to go out with a bang,” Duncan explained. Also winning races for Swarthmore were David Ranshous ’16, Riley Collins ’16, Joshua Turek-Herman ’16, Max Krackow ’15, John Flaherty ’14, Roger Chin ’13, Josh Satre ’13 and Charlie Hepper ’13.
The depth of both Swarthmore swim teams, and especially the success that multiple swimmers had against Cabrini impressed coach Davis. “Basically everyone has achieved a season best or lifetime best since we have returned [from Aruba],” she said. While Swarthmore has enjoyed much success in the first part of the season, Davis knows that the competition “will be fierce” going forward, stressing the importance of “staying healthy.”
While Swarthmore has already defeated Centennial Conference opponents McDaniel, Franklin & Marshall and Ursinus (the women also were victorious against Bryn Mawr), both teams will have to perform at their best to remain undefeated in the Conference. Looming especially large is Saturday’s road meet at Gettysburg. Like Swarthmore, both Gettysburg teams are undefeated in Centennial competition. The meet figures to provide a strong indication of whether Swarthmore has the potential to emerge from the Conference Championships victorious.
Wiseman is optimistic about the team’s chances. Even though she recognizes that team members have had “several lifetime bests in the last few meets,” Wiseman believes that Swarthmore has yet to reach its potential as a team. “Even if some of us are swimming fast right now, with a few more weeks of training plus taper, we’ll be ready for Conferences,” she predicted. If Swarthmore succeeds in its goal of winning the Conference Championships, team members will deserve a more conventional Caribbean vacation.
Dan Duncan is Sports Editor of The Phoenix. He had no role in the production of this article.