Seahawks dive into the start of a new swim season. The 2019-2020 swim team has completed two meets since November, and has three more months to go until the final Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championship season. With a new training schedule and early morning practices, Seahawks adapt to a new team dynamic, along with 5:30 a.m. lifting practices.
Elizabeth Johnson (‘21) a distance freestyler states that “the new training schedule can be tough, but it is paying off! I have been dropping time in my events throughout the season so far, and many other swimmers are swimming faster than they have at this point in the season historically.” Head Coach Casey Brandt reflects, “We graduated some key point scorers last year so this year has been exciting in that some of our freshman and sophomores are learning to step up and fill those roles.” Christina Bonass (‘22), a breaststroke and sprint freestyler remarks as well, “This season compared to last season is very different. Last season I was a freshman just coming in, I didn’t really know what to expect. I found that the workouts were a lot harder than what I was used to. However this season I was able to come in prepared and really put in my best effort.”
One key moment to help during practices this year, was when Ian Crocker, a famous Olympic swimmer who swam alongside Michael Phelps, came from Texas to coach the seahawks and give them advice on strokes.
Although the swim team may have lost a few token seniors from previous years, practices have been gearing up to train the freshmen and sophomores for future leadership roles. Bonass continues, describing training as “putting a greater emphasis on developing speed this year and we’re continuing to work on being explosive and getting out to a quick start. We’ve always been able to train to finish our races well but with the group we have this year I felt like front end speed was important.”
Jake Rosenweig-Stein (‘22) chimes in “practices have been going well. they are all hard but having your team there doing it to help.” Swimmers must wake up before the sun rises three times a week to put in a few miles of swimming before their 8 a.m. classes. Yes, miles. In fact, the swim team agrees, they often swim more miles in a day than walk around campus. Brandt agrees, “As far as the hardest workout, you’d probably get a different response from each kid on the team. We did do some barefoot sprints on the grass outside the pool for our 5:30 a.m. workout this past Monday. I think there was still frost on the ground so they had fun with that.”
Peter Orban (‘20), a 100 meter and 200 meter backstroker is most looking forward to having a go at the 200 back school record and improving his 100 back school record from last year.” As a senior, he has had many practices focused on his 100 and 200 pace and many opportunities to improve his flipturn underwater, however, his hardest practice is racing “100 yards or more off the blocks.”
Seahakws will compete at the Richmond invitational from on Nov. 23 and 24. Brandt will have the Seahawks rest for a few days to give a good measure on what they need to work on for the second half of the season. Johnson states, “I am currently looking forward to our mid-season meet in Richmond where we will put on our tech-suits and see how much training has paid off so far. I think the team is prepared and we are going to do very well. But what I am most excited for is the CAC Swimming championship. It is hosted here on campus and everyone swims faster than they have all season, we all support one another and just have tons of fun competing in the sport we all love. I can’t wait to see just how well all of our training will pay off at the climax of our season.”
Bonass concludes, “One special thing about our team that I don’t think most other teams have is friendship. Swimming is most times an individual sport, but at St. Mary’s we make it a family by supporting each other and encouraging each other. I really enjoy our team hugs.” Or, as Johnson put it, “SMCM Swimming is small, but fierce. What we lack in numbers we make up for in speed and spirit! It can be difficult to go up against larger teams in our conference, such as York and Mary Washington; however, we hold our own. You have to be there to really see it, since the scoreboard doesn’t always reflect our might.”
Although this year’s team is a small team, they do well in competition with several top 25 teams to fight against in the next couple of weeks. Seahawks will return from Thanksgiving break with a meet on Dec. 7 at Catholic University.