By Darwin Manning
The fish of the Bear have been swimming at a steady pace this semester and hope to finish the semester strong with the Pioneer Classic this weekend. Of course, their season really turns up in the spring semester, kicked off by the teams’ annual trip to Florida. Currently, the Grinnell men are 2-0 for the season, while the women are 1-1. At their home meet this weekend, they hope to stake a claim as a dominant team.
The women’s squad has had to adjust to the noticeable alterations in the composition of the squad and this has brought a concentrated attention to the incoming class. The women’s graduating class of 2012 accounted for 40% of their points in Midwest Conference competition last year. While the personalities, talents and leadership of the graduated athletes for both teams are missed, the team has been able to compensate well.
“Getting along with a large first year class can sometimes create ripples, but they are gelling well with the other years,” said Coach Erin Hurley.
Many of the seniors on the team have enjoyed the opportunity to step forward and direct the younger classes. Coach Hurley said that she encourages all seniors, whether or not they are captains, to adopt a natural leadership role if they choose. Upperclassmen always strive to remind the classes below that swimming is meant to be a source of enjoyment and pleasure. That said, there has been a refocused commitment to training for both teams and this has really paid off at this point.
“I have been noticing how much more dedicated and intense the team has become over the years,” said swimmer Beck Ringdahl-Mayland ’13. “You have people swimming faster then they ever had. You have people swimming faster at this point then they were by January of last season.”
The team has really put their faith in Coach Hurley and her training strategy: the other Grinnell ‘system’. Hurley does not have the team doing two-a-days, unlike other teams, but instead has them concentrating on rated perceived exertion. This can surprise many first-years, but they have to be willing to give into a unique ‘system.’
“Erin really has it down to a science at this point. Instead of time intervals being the determining force for how fast you go, we have a rated perceived exertion,” Ringdahl-Mayland said. “Putting your faith in the system—basketball isn’t the only Grinnell team that has a system—we surprise folks when we tell them we don’t do two-a-days.”
As a result of their dedication, the team has seen a nearly seamless record thus far, with one blemish against Luther for the women, which is historically a very strong team that both Grinnell squads rarely beat. The competition will be tougher for the Pioneer Classic, but the team feels reassured given their performances thus far.
“Now that we have the difficult training behind us, we will be more rested and I believe everyone will be more pumped and ready to really do well,” said Jenny Peek ’13.
The team will be welcoming over three hundred athletes for the Pioneer Classic and they will be hosting every event that is included at the conference meet. The competition they will face includes Knox, Monmouth, Illinois College and William Jewel, all top-notch opponents.
“Some athletes will be contesting more than nine or ten events in a day and a half so it’s grueling tough, but because it’s a cumulative event I am expecting that we will fare very well,” Hurley said.
The team is hopeful that they can feed off a strong turnout from the student body to do well at their home meet and propel many of the athletes into the Florida trip at the beginning of January. Additionally, the first years will benefit from having a large home meet.
“Having a big home meet, I think the first years will be looking to the seniors for how do we deal with this and what’s expected of us,” Hurley said.