By COLLEEN SULLIVAN
“Here’s some bus reading material,” said Abby Brethaeur, the University of Mary Washington swim coach, as the team made their way to a meet in Gettysburg. An article from the York Dispatch circulated around the swim team, which contained words that connoted a potential rivalry. The competitiveness displayed in the article is mostly one-sided.
The UMW swim team has a very strong record; the women’s team has won the Capital Athletic Conference title every year since 1991, and the men’s team has won every year since 1999. This is not to say that York does not pose as a threat to the UMW swim team. York College has set out to win this year’s CAC, with help from a new coach, new recruits and a new three-year plan to break UMW’s CAC record. York College has done well this season, having won all of their meets as of Jan. 19.
Brethaeur admits there is truth in the article and that it was not exactly out of the blue. After all, a team cannot win for so many consecutive years without accumulating a few rivals along the way. However, rather than intimidating the UMW swimmers, the article served as another source of motivation that will surely aid the team in the final two weeks of their season. For some teams, this record could foster complacency, or perhaps overconfidence.
However, this cannot be said for Mary Washington’s team. There is an enormous pressure to not be the team that breaks this record. As Brethauer aptly phrases it, “this team has been winning since before some of them were born.” This fact does not instill fear in the swimmers, nor does it daunt them. Instead, it acts as a goal for the swimmers to continually reach and push themselves towards.
Abby makes the reason for UMW’s success clear, “We don’t win because we’re the University of Mary Washington. We win because we work hard for what we want.” In other words, the swim team does not expect to win each year just because of their record. They strive for excellence and earn each victory. This motivation extends far past swimming; three members of the team have achieved a 4.0 and the team actively contributes to bettering the community.
As for future CACs, Abby asserts that a loss will not happen on her watch. She feels confident in the team’s ability to win the upcoming conference championship, especially with the family-like bonds that have been formed over the course of this season. The swimmers motivate one another to persevere through the tough times and to never quit.
“It’s one thing to have a great team, but another to have great people.” Although the York Dispatch’s article may have insinuated a rivalry, the UMW swim team collectively overlooked that aspect. Instead, they used this publicly announced challenge to reignite the fire that drives UMW towards success. On Saturday, Jan. 28, the women beat York 198-64 and the men won 161-101.