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Five Keene State College swimmers will be heading to the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) on March 21, 2012.
The five swimmers, Austin Harris, James Black, Drew Ledwith, Jared Hyde and Jillian Whitaker earned a spot on the national agenda due to their superb performances in the NEISDA swimming and diving championships last month.
“I am so impressed by these swimmers. I really can’t even express it. I thought it would be nearly impossible for them to qualify for nationals. We lost a couple of All-Americans last year. And we lost a couple kids that were really key to our relay teams last year,” Coach Jack Fabian said.
He added that for these five swimmers to make it, they had to get significantly better and better every meet. Fabian said they had to go that extra mile and they did it.
“It’s what I work for the whole year so it’s really important to me. This is the biggest meet of the year for me,” Keene State sophomore Drew Ledwith said.
Ledwith will be competing in the 400 individual medley and 500 freestyle, along with the 1650 along with the 400 and 800 team relays.
This is Ledwith’s second trip to nationals.
“Last year, I got third in the 1650. And seventeenth in the 400 [individual medley] relay. So I want to improve on those times. And I want to get All-American status,” Ledwith added.
“Last year, Drew had a little confidence issue before going into the 500 free. He didn’t know what to expect. But now he does. He’s better than he was last year,” Fabian said.
Also competing in individual events are sophomores James Black and Jared Hyde along with junior Jillian Whitaker.
Black will be racing in the 100 freestyle on his first trip to nationals.
“I’ve been working my entire life to go to nationals so I am really excited,” Black said.
Hyde will compete in the 100 freestyle along with the 200 individual medley.
Whitaker will compete in the 100 breast and will have a chance to compete in the 200 breast.
Austin Harris, Jared Hyde, James Black and Drew Ledwith will also be competing in the 400 and 800 team relays.
The KSC relay team is pretty confident in its chances at achieving All-American status.
“We have been keeping track of our relay times and comparing them to the other teams we are competing against. They aren’t that far off from where they need to be. It’s really close,” Black said.
Since the NEISDA swimming and diving championships last month, the team has had a month off to prepare for the national championships.
“We’ve been training pretty hard, training twice a day. There’s only five of us at practice so we get a lot more attention from Coach. But it’s been really tough sessions,” James Black said.
“We still have 20 days left. We are lucky that these swimmers came back after the meet and look even better. I think they have gotten faster,” Fabian said.
The five swimmers were handed a strict training regimen from their coach following the NEISDA swimming and diving championships.
“The swimmers have had a significant rest which is called a taper. So right now we are trying a re-taper. So we give the swimmers a couple of really hard sessions every five days. And then we are working on getting their aerobic fitness up to a higher level. We have two peak days every five days,” Fabian said.
Fabian added, “Also, right now they are lifting a little bit. They are on a special lifting cycle that got them a little bit fatigued. We feel like with the amount of time we have between the two meets, we might be able to increase their strength a little more.”
The lifting regime is something that the national competitors from last year’s team were not involved in.
“This year, I started lifting and I didn’t do that last year. I’ve pretty much been doing the same preparations all year though,” Ledwith said.
“We’ve been training right through this whole month, so nothing really changed. It just makes the season a little longer. And this month has been a lot harder,” Black said.
Fabian said his team’s biggest struggle will be how they handle the first night of competition.
“I think the first night is going to be their biggest struggle. It’s just a very fast meet from the first morning session right on. As long as they don’t lose that confidence, they will be fine,” Fabian said.
Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at email@example.com