The men’s Pioneer swimming and diving team is coming up on the biggest swim meet of the year: the GLIAC Conference races, held at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
Head coach Devin Murphy is hopeful about his teams’ chances at the conference meet.
As the meet gets closer, a lot of specific training goes into preparing the swimmers to be at their best when it’s time to race.
“It’s a lot like running in a certain way,” Murphy said. “We try to taper down so that at Christmas, that’s the bulk of our training. As we get closer to conference we try to taper down.”
The key for success is peaking at the right time, or hitting their maximum physical condition for swimming their fastest at just the right time. Usually, coaches shoot for that “peak” period to be during championship season.
One of the major changes the team will make to prepare for the conference meet involves decreasing weight for lifting.
“Say you normally bench press 150 pounds; well, you’re only bench pressing 100 pounds now,” senior swimmer Zach Reuther said. “But you’re trying to do it fast and explosive to get those fast twitch muscles going.”
Another aspect of preparing for the conference meet is shaving. Swimmers will shave almost all the hair off their bodies. Surprisingly, there are multiple reasons for this strange tradition.
One reason for shaving is to simply make a swimmer lighter.
“Not only will you feel lighter, but hair also traps air bubbles which increase how much the drag is in the water,” Reuther said.
But there is another reason for shaving that may surprise those who are not familiar with swimming.
“When you shave you take off the top layer of dead skin,” Reuther said. ” It helps you feel faster in the water even if you aren’t actually going faster, which helps you psychologically.”
Like any team, the men’s swimming team has its strengths and weaknesses.
“I think the strength of the team, number one, is that our guys love to race,” Murphy said. “They never give up. I think another strength is our strokes, our strokes are really good.”
Murphy also expressed the lack of depth on the team compared to other Division II schools.
“Top talent versus top talent on the men’s side, I think we can compete with most other teams in the country,” Murphy said. “What we’re lacking is depth.”
As the Pioneers swim program is only five years old, being nationally ranked is an impressive accomplishment. Many Pioneer swimmers have a shot at the NCAA Division II National championship if they do well in the GLIAC conference meet.
Cory Veldhuizen is a staff writer for The Aviso AVW.