The 2014-15 swimming season has been one plagued by injuries, illnesses, and defeats. Although the women started off the year on a positive note with a resounding win over Brandeis University, both the men and women have run into trouble as the season has progressed. The women’s team currently holds a 1-2 record while the men are still winless at 0-3.
As the holidays approach, the Cardinals face the prospect of multiple difficult meets. On Jan. 3, the men and the women will take on the Hamilton College Continentals at home, and on Jan. 17, they will compete against Williams College and Conn College in a dual meet at home.
While Head Coach Peter Solomon recognizes that a victory in the dual meet would be miraculous against the two strong programs from Conn and Williams, he is continuing to remind his swimmers the importance of putting forth maximum effort.
The meet against Trinity, on the other hand, will be one of the most pivotal in the season not only because of the rivalry that surrounds these two schools, but also due to the Cardinals’ strong chance to secure a victory.
“The matchup between Wesleyan and Trinity will prove to be a very competitive meet,” Solomon said. “This is one of our biggest dual meets of the year and could very well set the tone for the rest of the season for other conference rivals such as Hamilton College on Jan. 3, and Colby College on Jan. 24, as well as in-state rival Coast Guard, all meets that will be fiercely contested.”
These meets, regardless of their outcomes, are of immense importance to the Cardinals since they mark the transition into the second half of the swimming season. Strong performances are necessary in order to build momentum as the NESCAC championships approach.
On Nov. 24, as a majority of students were finalizing their Thanksgiving plans, the Cardinals took on Amherst College, a school known for having one of the most impressive swim and dive programs in the nation. As a result, Wesleyan was not expected to win any of its events.
“Amherst is not only a Little Three rival,” Solomon said. “The program is also one of the top-10 DIII teams in the country. Amherst stopped scoring points by entering their swimmers and divers as exhibition contestants about two-thirds of the way through the meet. This gesture of sportsmanship is unique to our sport, and I respect Coach Nichols for doing this.”
Solomon added that he hopes this rivalry will become more competitive in the years ahead.
While meets such as these can often be damaging to a team’s morale, they serve a highly important purpose. These kinds of losses not only highlight areas that need improvement, but they also help to establish a benchmark that gives teams something to work toward. According to Solomon, the Cardinals’ ultimate goal is to diminish the disparity that currently exists between Wes and its Little Three rivals, a process that will take many years of training and successful recruiting.
As is the case in all sports, injury and illness can tear teams apart. This is true especially for Wesleyan swimming and diving, whose program has suffered the loss of many key swimmers. The absence of Ali Pourmaleki ’18 due to a partially torn ligament in his thumb has hurt the Cardinals. Max Distler ’18 has been out with strained back muscles, and Spencer Tang ’18 missed this week’s training because he had the flu.
On the women’s side, Amanda Distler ’15 suffered a broken rib during the first week of training, and many other first-year swimmers have missed practices with flu-like symptoms.
These missing links have been problematic for the entirety of the Cardinals’ season; however, the return of a few swimmers should help them in their upcoming meets.
“Many of the swimmers, including myself, had to miss a few meets so we could come back healthy,” the younger Distler said. “Of course, missing a few swimmers on the boys and girls team… can have a huge effect on the outcome of the meet. “Nevertheless, the team is recovering and we are looking forward to training and racing over the next few months.”
Four juniors who are currently studying abroad will also return to the pool next semester.
A major facet of collegiate athletics is the commitment it demands. As a result, teams are always looking to establish an edge over their competitors. To this end, the team will continue to train individually when school is not in session.
“Training over break can be difficult depending on your home swimming situation, but a lot of people are able to train with their high school teams or their old club teams and stay on top of things,” said Captain Angela Slevin ’15. “We have about two weeks at home before we head back to school, so staying focused is definitely incredibly important.”
In their mission to maintain a strong training regiment, the Cardinals will venture to Puerto Rico on a team trip. For seven days, swimmers will have the opportunity not only to improve their times in the pool, but also to improve their health in Puerto Rico’s warm, temperate climate.
Suffice it to say that Wesleyan swim and dive will be extremely busy from now until school reopens in late January. What lies ahead for the team are a few difficult meets against NESCAC rivals, multiple weeks of continued rigorous training, and a long trip south. At this point in the season, while the record may not indicate a great deal of success, Solomon and his swimmers are extremely excited for their remaining meets.
“It would be a boost to the team’s morale heading into the NESCAC championships in February should all of the pieces come together in the next few meets and both teams [are] able to beat Trinity, Hamilton, Colby, and Coast Guard Academy,” Solomon said.
Spirits are high, and it will be exciting to see what the Cardinals are capable of accomplishing as the season progresses.