The men’s swim team will enter the pool for their first meet on Saturday, October 26, returning six of the seven Division III all-American swimmers from last year. It is that returning talent that has the team thinking it can build on last season’s accomplishments.
“Our goal is to improve on our international ranking,” sophomore Shahar Resman said. “So our goal is to be a top-eight or top-six team this year.”
Those aspirations may seem high, but they are not unrealistic. Last season, the team won the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association Championship and finished the year ranked 11th in the nation. Improving on a season like that requires little to no margin for error and the team admitted that the pressure is on.
“We understand that there’s a lot of pressure on us and we just try to keep it away and just not really think about it,” sophomore Cole Hogg said. “We try to have fun with what we’re doing and just keep swimming.”
Pressure can be detrimental to a team during the season, when players can lose focus and nerves can take over. Pressure can also be harnessed during the off-season, serving as an internal motivator, pushing athletes to work their hardest when no one’s watching. So far, everyone seems happy with the team’s off-season training.
“I think everyone trained really hard, a lot of lifting and swimming on the side to focus on strength building,” Hogg said. “I know most of them lifted a lot over the summer and throughout the off-season.”
That training is just one reason why the team is confident they can improve on its success last year. Other reasons come in the form of new additions to the team. “This year we have a lot of new kids, we have a lot more depth than we had last year,” sophomore Greg Youngstrom said. “We should have a lot more kids swimming events.”
Youngstrom also said he expects the team’s strong point to be the shorter distance events. The team has new swimmers for the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle events to go along with an already dominant group of sprinters, or short-distance swimmers.
Perhaps more revealing than his answer about the team’s strengths is Youngstrom’s answer when asked about his team’s weaknesses. “To be honest I can’t really think of one [weakness] off the top of my head,” he said. “We have so many kids at different levels that should be strong for different events.” Before concluding that they are overly-confident, one may consider that the team came into last year very young and largely unsure of what to expect. “We had to learn to believe in ourselves, we know we can be a really good team this year,” Resman said. “We didn’t believe that at first last year, but this year we do.”
There’s no shortage of lessons to be learned as a freshman athlete, and Hogg said he’ll use those valuable lessons to teach the incoming freshmen. “I just learned how to keep up with all the schoolwork and grades,” Hogg said. “You just need to keep working hard and never let it build up inside you. Just go with the flow and do the best you can.” That attitude should remove some of the aforementioned pressure, but more importantly it will allow Hogg to enjoy the season more.
Resman also said the team has grown closer since last year. “We’re together all the time now,” Resman said. “We live together, eat together, we are all best friends in the pool and out of it.” All of the players that were interviewed made it clear they were excited about the season. “The kids that came in are awesome to have and the kids returning should sustain their success,” Youngstrom said. “I’m looking forward to the season and just can’t wait to see what happens.”
Zach Winn can be contacted at email@example.com