As the 2014-15 season approaches, the Wesleyan swim and dive team looks to ride last year’s momentum into its first meet. Leading the charge is returning Head Coach Peter Solomon, whose commitment to establishing the Cardinals as a dominant NESCAC force has motivated his swimmers to excel this preseason. With the addition of 10 talented first-years, the Cardinals’ chances of winning are tremendous. Solomon and his team are eager to channel their focus and determination with the ultimate goal of achieving success at the NESCAC championships this February.
Swimming is a unique sport in the sense that a team’s success relies on individual performance, though the ultimate goal is to score points for the team. Thus, Solomon and the captains have put a huge emphasis on team unity and cooperation this preseason. As described by senior Captain Rachel Hirsch ’15, establishing a team-first mentality is especially important given the lack of consistency that has surrounded the team in previous years.
“My main goal for the team is for us to regain some of the unity and stability that we’ve lost in the past couple of years,” Hirsch said. “In my time as a swimmer at Wes, we’ve had three head coaches, two assistant coaches, and numerous volunteer coaches. I’m immensely grateful to all of them, but I think that a lot of the [positivity] of our team, our spirit and love for the sport, was lost in the cracks during the years of transition.”
A necessary facet to all athletes’ success is the ability to establish consistent routines. With the return of Solomon to guide the Cardinals this season, Wesleyan swimmers will be able to do just that.
While Wesleyan swimming made a promising run last year, there were certain weaknesses Solomon identified as holding the Cardinals back. Specifically, growth in the sprint and mid-distance freestyle events would immensely improve the team’s capability. Solomon is confident, however, that the freshman class will have a strong impact on the sprint events this year.
He further conveyed his confidence when he was asked about the level of performance during preseason training.
“Wesleyan just experienced its best preseason training period with an unprecedented level of participation and determination,” Solomon said. “For the first time in a long while, swimmers and divers committed to their training and conditioning on a daily basis and it is beginning to pay off even in the early weeks of the official NESCAC season.”
It seems that whatever doubts may have lingered following the conclusion of the 2013-14 season have been washed away, leaving behind a confident and capable Cardinal team.
On their journey to the 2015 championships, the Cardinals will have to defeat numerous conference rivals. While their intense preseason regimen has prepared them to secure these victories, many swimmers are relying on more than their training to propel them through the season.
“I can’t believe that this is my last season of swimming as a Cardinal!” said Captain Angela Slevin ’15. “I’ve been swimming since I was five years old so it’s hard to imagine not competing, but it makes me all the more motivated to have a strong last season. We have a talented freshman class this year and it’s really exciting to see this journey just beginning for all of them.”
Slevin is returning from a historic 2013-14, in which she broke two school records, bringing her total to nine Wesleyan records in her career so far. She was also the first female Cardinal to attend Nationals since 2008.
Her resolve to perform at a high level this season is just as much fueled by her passion for the sport as by her desire to do well for her team. This attitude is indicative of the cooperation and devotion surrounding the team and is a testament to the spirit of the athletes. Maintaining such an attitude is crucial for the Cardinals if they wish to succeed this season, and also if they hope to send any more Cardinals to NCAAs this year.
The excitement surrounding Wesleyan’s swim and dive team is the result of an extremely successful preseason combined with the team’s mutual desire to compete at a high level. Their first test will come on Nov. 15 at home against Brandeis, as the Cardinals begin what they hope to be a game-changing season.