Women’s swimming prepares for conference championships

The year is coming to a close for the women’s swim team. This regular season ended February 7 on a highly successful note with a very tight win over Dickinson on the team’s senior day at Ware Pool. The team won narrowly — 105.5-99.5. Kate Weisman ’15 won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle relays. Above all else, senior day is the time to thank and commemorate the seniors, but an exciting win over a tough competitor made the feeling that much more ecstatic.

The Centennial Conference championship is this weekend and the Dickinson win gives the team confidence going into the meet. “We have a lot of excitement and momentum going into conferences now,” said Eva Winter ’16.

Weisman, who had much to do with the win over Dickinson and the team’s success this season, felt extremely satisfied with the completion of her final season. “That was a great note to end the regular season on,” she noted.

Supriya Davis ’15 celebrated her final home meet with similar contentment. “I’ve been swimming year-round since I was six years old,” she said. “It’s a shock that it’s about to be over, but I’m excited to have had a great last meet with my teammates.” Davis took part in the exciting finish against Dickinson by completing the 400-yard freestyle relay along with Wiseman, Jillian Haywood ’18, and Diane Lee ’18.

All the swimmers are excited to see how well they can do this year in conferences and hope to potentially make a run at a conference championship. The next step after the final race is to cut down training in a method called “tapering.” The idea behind tapering is to prepare all the swimmers for the higher intensity and faster pace of the conference championships. Each day the swimmers swim 2,100 yards, which is significantly lower than the normal 6,000 yards that they swim during the regular season. The intervals between swims are greater in order to provide more rest, which gives them a chance to recover and be at full strength for the championships.

Erica Flor ’17 noted that this period of time is exciting but more leisurely. “Taper is a three-week process of fewer yards and more sprints in order to feel the race pace,” she said. The swimmers are allowed to do less and enjoy letting their bodies recover from the rigor of being in season. Other benefits include time to catch up on work and mentally prepare for the biggest race of the year.

An important part of preparing for a big event such as the conference championships this weekend is a diet change. The swimmers noted their drastic increase in appetite during the regular season. However, during this period of less intensity, appetite goes down and many swimmers focus on modifying their diets to be slightly healthier. Winter commented, “some people go dessert-free for a month, or maybe eat spinach instead of fries.”

Conferences will take place at Gettysburg College and will feature all eight Centennial teams. This meet is very different from others. The heats are much shorter, which is one reason for the current training period. Most swimmers are in shape to do longer races and have the physical and mental capacity to pace themselves for longer races, but with a shorter race, swimmers need to prepare and change the way in which they swim.

The meet spans three days and has a unique setup. Preliminaries take place on Saturday morning and the top eight swimmers from that heat make it to the final race later that day. The atmosphere will be intense, and the athletes will be revved, but the Swarthmore women’s swim team is more than ready for the event.

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