By CHRIS MARKHAM
While many University of Mary Washington students spent their winter breaks shielding themselves from the bitter cold of the “Polar Vortex,” members of the UMW swim team were basking in the warm, sunny weather of Puerto Rico.
But it was not all rest and relaxation for the Eagles, as most of the eight-day vacation was spent rigorously training for the tough season ahead.
“We didn’t really have a day off,” said Freshman Shannon Coryell. “We practiced for four hours almost every day and we had to get up at 5 a.m. a few times. Swimming in an Olympic-sized pool made the intervals harder and each practice more intense.”
The trip was also an opportunity for the squad to become closer as a team. The long trip and arduous workouts presented a glorious opportunity for the swimmers to become better acquainted with one another.
“We bonded as a team,” said sophomore Matthew Garstka, “It brought us closer together going into the second half of the season.”
The Eagles put that training into action against the St. Mary’s (Md.) Seahawks at home on Jan 18.
The Hawks, who are considered to be UMW’s biggest in conference competition, were handled by both the men’s and the women’s teams by a large margin Saturday afternoon.
The men’s squad took down St. Mary’s by a score of 126-78 and the women also came out on top 132-72.
“We had some great swims today and everyone swam well,” said sophomore Sean Mayer. “Our goal is to get all of our relays to NCAAs so we can have a strong presence there and hopefully break some records.”
The men and women are now both 6-1 in the season and remain undefeated in Capital Athletic Conference competition at 3-0 apiece.
The meet against Saint Mary’s also served as senior night for the Eagles.
On the men’s side, Ryan McGhee, Nate Moyar and Carey Natoli were honored, and on the women’s team, Mary-Patrick Bailey, Tara Banks, Kristen Callahan, Casey Dawson, Amber Kerico, Elizabeth Lewan, Allison Martin, Catherine Perrin and Jessica Singer were honored.
“I’m going to miss the three senior captains dearly,” said Coryell. “They have gone above and beyond their duties and treated me like part of the team.”
Despite the victories, the teams are staying focused on the season ahead and not getting caught up in the success that they have had thus far. With the most important meets right around the corner, focus is the number one priority right now.
“We are in our heavy training phase,” said Mayer. “It is our hardest part of the year.”
Because the swim season is such a long one, peaking is an extremely important concept for the coaches to incorporate into the training program.
“In a few weeks we begin what we call ‘taper’ which is where we start to rest our muscles and get ready for conferences,” said sophomore Vance Solseth.
Though the rest of the season may not include sandy beaches and warm sun, the Eagles are hoping that it does end with some hardware and broken records.