Gamecock SwimBlogWelcome to the Gamecock SwimBlog! Here, you'll get an inside look at Gamecock swimming & diving from junior Taylor Josserand, as well as other guest writers from time to time.
March 4, 2013
Wrapping up the season with a little bit of community service!
With another season practically under our belts, the Gamecock swimmers & divers are still hard at work. SEC's, overall, was a pretty solid meet. The guys had an awesome meet with more than just a few standout swims and the girls had a strong performance with great swims by some of the girls! So far we have 4 of our guys qualified for NCAA's and one girl. However, the whole team is back at work, still training every day, and the NCAA people will continue training over Spring Break, while the rest of us will get Spring Break off and the week after.
It is hard to believe that another season has practically come and gone. And I think for many of us upper classmen it is all starting to hit us that we only have one more season left in college swimming. It is a very bittersweet thought, but I know throughout the next year, no day that passes will be taken for granted and we are going to try and capture the most memories as we can throughout the next year.
We recently just participated in the athlete hour for Dance Marathon. A majority of the swim & dive team went up to Strom to support Greek Life in supporting the Children's Miracle network and the "For the Kids" movement. It was this event last year where we all met McKayla, the little girl whose dream is to one day be a swimmer in college, for the Gamecocks, and this event ever since has meant a lot to this team. It really is a wonderful fundraiser and so much fun. Just in one hour, I think the team is convinced that they would want to stay the full 24 hours that the Greek life community does. It is for a great cause and a lot of fun!
I know many of us have plenty of exams and projects due this week, and we are all really just looking forward to a break in the school work and from "reality" for a bit, and with Spring Break just around the corner, we are all VERY excited! After Spring Break and our two weeks off, we will get back into our routine with circuits and practices every afternoon, and begin our focus to the summer season.
Thank you all for your continued support throughout this year. Our success would not be possible without all of your support!
February 4, 2013
Fighting `till the End...
As we wrapped up the season with the last dual meets of the season, I think we can all agree that this team has fought, fought hard, till the very end. The women came out with a big win against BAMA this weekend and the men fell short of a win, but I can say that I have never seen so much fighting and passion with this team until I did Saturday.
We had a rough start in the beginning overall and we could have easily just given up right then and there, but every single person on this team stepped up and did what they needed to do. Everyone fought and swam with so much passion and support for each other that that is what gave us our "wins". In the end, the score had the women pulling out a win over BAMA and the men falling very very short, however, I think we won in so many other ways today and this team is going to use that to push forward into SEC's.
haven't seen this team so strong and so determined in all my three years here so far. After the past four weekends with meets after meets, and coming off of Christmas training, this team has kept on pushing and not looking back but looking forward. A lot came out of this weekend and I think a lot was shown. In a couple of weeks there are going to be some very fast times being posted by everyone on this team at SEC's. And, although the men may have fallen short this weekend, I have no doubts that they won't show up at SEC's and blow everyone away. This team is so strong and truly is a family. A lot of team's in this conference, in this country, have a lot of really talented and fast swimmers, but if the team isn't truly a "team" or a family, then success is going to be so hard to accomplish in the long run. We have so much ahead of us and I cannot wait to see all that is to come in the coming weeks!
I think this team learned a lot this weekend and took away some stuff that is going to help everyone in the coming weeks leading up to SEC's and then at SEC's. This team is ready to go and ready to prove to everyone in the SEC how strong we are and how hard each and everyone have worked this year! Thank you all so much for you support!!! It has been an incredible season and we look forward to your support at SEC's in a few weeks!
January 24, 2013
Last Home Meet of the Season!
This weekend's two-day meet marks the last home meet of the season, and for some the last meet they will ever swim in the Blatt P.E. Center. We will be recognizing the Seniors during the beginning of Friday's portion of the meet, but it will be a special two-day event celebrating their four years here and all they have done for this program. The meet is a Quad Meet against College of Charleston, Wingate and Queens. Coming off a loss last weekend, I know this team is determined to not only come out with wins on both the men and women's side but also continue to post some very fast times.
The Duke meet proved to be a success with a win coming out from the men and women's side, as well as some pretty good swimming coming right off of Winter training. Although last weekend the men and women did not quite get wins, I think we won in other circumstances. There were some very impressive swims made across the board. From the men's side Brooks Ross led the way for the distance events and Matt Navata had some pretty impressive swims, even though he came up very short in the 200 IM. On the women's side, Casey Papp had some great swims for the sprinters, Whitney Avers and Amanda Rutqvist also put up some good times as well.
This weekend is going to finish up this season's home meets and it will without a doubt be a great two days! Celebrating the seniors and their time here and with many members of the team tapered and ready to go, it is going to be a fun weekend full of some very fast swimming. I think this meet will set the tone for what is to come in the next several weeks and then at SEC's!
The senior festivities begin at 3:45pm on Friday, with the meet scheduled to start at 4pm and then Saturday's session will begin at 10am. Thanks so much for all your support and we hope to see you guys out there to finish off our home schedule!
January 12, 2013
Well, this blog marks the end of the Christmas Training Practices, but we are not done quite yet, in fact we are just getting started!
We are headed to Duke this weekend for a meet Saturday, following a meet against Arkansas and FSU next weekend and then for a third weekend in a row Wingate and College of Charleston will come to Columbia for a double header. Christmas training over all has gone really really well for all groups and I believe the coaches are very happy with how everyone has been training. The work ethic, encouragement and level of happiness has been at an ultimate high- the highest I have seen it in my three years being here. The team has really come together and everyone has stepped up supporting not only the people in their individual groups, but all groups.
It can definitely be hard at this time of year with the different groups doing a variety of different things. But a goal this year has been for us to understand that each individual on this team needs something different than the other and we all need to support one another no matter what. Throughout this Christmas training I think that goal has been accomplished and I have no doubt that this will be shown in all the success that is to come throughout the next several weeks and then at SEC's.
Not only were we working hard in the pool but we did have some fun throughout this break. Before we left for the winter break, we had a team dinner at Dipratto's (everyone' favorite!) and did a white elephant gift exchange. It was a great time for us all to step away from the pool and get a good meal with some great company and good laughs. When we returned we had two team outings, including bowling and a hike. The bowling definitely showed us some skills of individuals on the team we had no idea they had and the hike was, well, very interesting? It was team bonding at its finest-which was the point! ☺
This being my third Christmas training at school, I believe this one has been the best. While it was tough and a little different with us being here longer after home, I think with the different activities planned, the attitude of everyone, and with the coaches support and planning, everyone has seemed happy and it went really well. We are headed to Duke to show them what we have been training for and prove to them that this team is stronger than ever! This team has got each other's back and that is something not everyone can say they have!
I hope this blog finds you all doing well and having a great start to the New Year! Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you in the coming meets!
December 16, 2012
A very busy month for sure!
I am so sorry it has been so long since the last blog, but I can say that it has been a VERY busy month and half! The last month has consisted of the Virginia Tech Invite, home for Thanksgiving, last couple weeks of school, finals, and now we are getting into the beginning, or a sneak preview, of Christmas training before we head home for the Holidays.
First off, the Virginia Tech Invite went great! We had a lot of awesome swims, especially from the underclassmen and then Michael Flach, Gerard and Marwan had some stand out swims on the guy's side, and Rachael Schaffer and Amanda both had great swims on the girl's side. But all in all, it was a great meet, full of some positive and fun energy and it was a nice change up from the usual Nike Cup Invite from the previous years.
After the Virginia Tech Invite, we were able to go home for a few days for the Thanksgiving break and spend some time with family and friends. For most of us, this was the first time being home since August and I know everyone was super excited to get home for a bit and see friends and family... especially the freshmen! Since Thanksgiving, we have been hitting the books and wrapping up this semester! Finals come to an end on Monday, and I have to say, this semester has gone by so fast! Yes, I am super relieved that it has finally come to an end, along with many others, but it is crazy how much faster time moves each semester you are in college! I know the freshmen are shocked that they have already completed their first semester of college, and for people like me, as a Junior, and the Seniors especially, we are realizing how fast this time in our life goes and we are just trying to make the best of each day... because all of this college life will soon be gone and time flies! It is crazy!
We will begin, or I guess I should say, have a sneak preview of what Christmas Training will be like over the next couple of days before we are able to go home for about a week for the Holidays. This part of training is probably the hardest, especially after coming back from home, when no one is here and we are here training like crazy, doubles pretty much every day. But I know that we are going to have some team activities planned throughout the two-half weeks after Christmas and we all are focused on getting better and we know to get better, this is the training we need, no matter how hard it is!
I apologize again for the delay in the update of the blog, but I promise to keep you all updated throughout the next couple of weeks of training and let you all know how we are doing! We appreciate your support so much and I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season and a great start to the New Year!
November 6, 2012
Two Big Meets in the book along with some Gamecock Giving Back...
Well we have just completed our three meet series with some of the fastest teams in the country. Last weekend, we swam against University of Florida, and although both women and men did not succeed in winning the meet, overall the team swam well and we were able to face some of the top competition in the country and prepare ourselves for SEC's in February. And we just returned from facing UVA this past weekend. It was a long two days, spending most of our time on a bus seven hours there and seven hours back. But it was our first travel meet of the season and that is exciting! It took us a little bit longer to get going in the meet but by the end of the meet we had put up some pretty good races and again were able to get some great racing in against another one of the top teams in the country. Whitney Avers and Caroline Bixler put up some really good races for the women and Gerard Rodriguez and Brooks Ross put up some fast times for the men's side.
We talked a lot about being mentally tough, especially when we travel to away meets and not in the comfort of our own pool. I think this meet was a very good learning experience for the freshmen and a reminder to the rest of the team about staying positive and being able to adjust to new environments quickly. But I was happy to see everyone supporting one another during the meet and a lot of cheering going on! The relays at the end of the meet were probably the most exciting part!
Along with two more meets in the books, we also took part in some community service Sunday morning. About 20 members of the swim team, including coach Randi Vogel, helped set up for the Diabetes Walk. It was for sure some more team bonding but great giving back to the community. I think the staff for Walk for Cure Diabetes greatly appreciated our help!
We swim College of Charleston at Charleston this Friday and then head up to Virginia Tech the following week for a three-day invite! A lot coming up these next couple weeks with some very important training. Again, thanks so much for all your support!
October 14, 2012
First meet in the books!
The season has officially started! Our first meet went off great! With two of the top ten teams in the country, you can say we got great practice for SEC's and NCAA's with all the fast swimming that was going on. Although the girls did get beat by both Texas A&M and UNC, we all swam great and really did put up some great races. And the boys stepped it up big time and showed these two tops teams what they were made of! The boys defeated Texas A&M and fell short to UNC by only a little over 30 points. All in all, it was an awesome first meet full of a lot of excitement and determination to show everyone this year that this is our year! Congrats to the freshmen on completing their first collegiate swim meet and welcome to college swimming!
Our next meet is not until October 26th against Florida, so we have some time this week to get prepared and get some rest for another upcoming SEC battle. We have Fall Break this week, so we will get a chance to get some extra rest and down time while staying here and training. As far as recruiting has been going, everything has been going wonderfully! The freshmen are doing a great job as hosts and I really do believe we have some promising, potential recruits for next year!
I know we are all a little bummed after the tough loss in the football game last night, but hopefully this coming weekend we can rebound and get back on our game! But as for swimming, yesterday's meet went great and I think everyone is super happy with how it turned out and motivated to get back to training tomorrow to focus on Florida in a couple of weeks!
Thanks so much for all your support and hope to see you at the Florida meet in a little less than two weeks!
September 17, 2012
Two weekends down!
We have just finished up our second weekend with recruits! The freshmen have been doing an awesome job! Recruiting comes early for us, especially for the freshmen, who have barely been on campus and get to know everyone and every thing, but they really have done a great job and hopefully made a huge impact on some great, potential, future teammates! Along with "firsts", we broke into groups for the first time this week for a couple of practices! It was nice to finally be able to come together in your individual groups and get a sneak peak as to what the year will entail. For the freshmen and many others, including myself, a lot of changes have been made! The freshmen got to experience their permanent coach for the season as well as other members on the team who may have moved groups or gotten a new coach. For me, I went from sprint group to DISTANCE group! Yes, I know, that doesn't sound right! No worries, I am in the "sprint distance" section of the group but it definitely will be an adjustment and I am looking forward to all the changes in my training for this season!
First recruiting weekend, split into groups, oh and I cannot forget, we are now OFFICIALLY in season! Our first meet is less than a month out and this team is more motivated than ever! We all have really come together through some of the brutal circuits and practice challenges and I truly believe this may be one of the most well-rounded, strongest, hard-working teams in the country and definitely the strongest team Gamecock Swimming has seen in a while. We are going to be making a huge impact this year and really shock a bunch of people with the results that are going to occur. I am super excited!!!
This upcoming weekend is Parent's weekend for the school, so many families will be coming to visit and I know all the swimmers, especially the freshmen, are excited to see their families! We are fully adjusted and underway with school and training. We are coming to an end with team circuit and team practices as we enter our last weeks of this and then we will officially be separated into groups for good. Outside of school and swimming, I know the team is enjoying some Carolina Football! Home games are simply the best, especially Gamecock Football! A bunch of the men and women from the team went onto the field with other teams during half time this week for making Spring AD Honor roll! It was a huge honor and great experience!!
Less than a month until the first home meet!! We are getting ready and super excited! Thanks for all your support!
September 3, 2012
Hello! Or should I say, Welcome Back! We are all settled and back in action! We just completed the first full week of classes and first week of circuit with our new strength coach, Josh Morgan! Circuit has for sure been challenging but everything we are doing is great and really going to help with our strength this season. I think everyone is super excited to be back and we have all loved getting to know the new members of the team from the freshman class!
Circuit will continue throughout the next couple of weeks, as well as captain practices with a mixture of coach's practices. After this upcoming week, we will be almost back to full time schedule, but still all practicing together! We are gradually going to be transferring back to our individual groups within the next couple of weeks and will be full time in our individual groups by the end of September. While it was a little difficult, for most of us, getting back into the school routine, we are ready to go and continue our success both in and out of the water! It is so great having our Gamecock Swimming Family back together and we are very happy to have the new additions, Josh and Randi to the team! All three will be impacting this team in a great way!
We have our first group of recruits coming in a little less than one week as well as our first home game of the season! We are so excited Football season is underway and to show these recruits what our Gamecock family is all about. I am so happy to be back and so excited for all the success that is to come this season! We are continuing to work really hard both in and out of the water, in training and in school, and preparing for our first meet in the beginning of October! I will be sure to keep you all updated!
Thanks so much for your support! Hope you all are just as excited as we are for this new season! We are going to be doing some BIG things!
May 8, 2012
Well, finals have ended and many have gone home for the summer (including myself)! But I can say this year ended in a great way! The whole team participated in Relay for Life in honor of our sweet little Harper! We named our team Harper's Helpers and ended up raising over $3,000 for the American Cancer Society. It was a very successful event and also a fun event, with some of us staying up the whole night (some, more like very few). I, along with many others, crashed around 2:30 a.m. but it was so much fun and a great way for us to bond as a team for a great cause!
It was a busy past couple of weeks after Relay for Life with finals and everyone packing up to go home or move out of South Quad to other places! Most of the team went home for the summer, but a good amount are also staying in Columbia to train for Olympic Trials and some other big meets throughout the summer! We wrapped up the year very successfully with some great community service events, studying hard for finals and also had a big night at the Gamecock Gala!
We will all miss each other this summer but it will be August before we know it and we will all be back to start another great season again! We have some great freshmen coming in and large group of them. I know we are all very excited to meet them and welcome them to the team. I hope everyone has a great summer with lots of family time! Thanks so much for continuing to support us and we look forward to seeing you all in the fall for the start of the season!
Until the next time...Go Cocks!
April 27, 2012
March 25, 2012
Over the next few weeks, the swim team is going to have its fair share of community service type events! We are so excited! At Saturday practice this past week, we were able to help complete a dream for one of the Miracle Children's Network kids! You may have remembered, but in a previous blog, I mentioned how we went to the USC Dance Marathon and met Mckayla, a miracle child! Her dream has been to meet the USC swim team and also swim with them! We were able to make that dream happen! Mckayla came to the end of our swim practice and got in the water with all of us. We started off playing "Simon-says" in the water and then a relay race on floats. I can tell you, she is quite the swimmer, and definitely has a future in the sport! We were so happy to spend time with this sweet, loving girl and hope we keep seeing her around the pool deck in the future!
Along with our time at the pool with Mckayla, the USC swim team is helping with a Safe Kids Swim Clinic being held at the Drew Wellness Center next Sunday. It is targeted at kids ages 4-6 years old and it will be a basic clinic, where parents are informed of safety in the water, the kids are taught how to stretch properly and then also given time one-on-one with an instructor in the water to learn how to do the basic swimming techniques! It is partnered up with Palmetto Children's Health Hospital and McDonald's has also willingly donated goggles for all of the children, which is great! It should be a great event and we are looking forward to helping children learn to swim!
And our final, big, community event is Relay for Life! We have decided to make a team for USC's Relay for Life and we have made the team name "Harper's Helpers". Harper is a little girl that we have been almost pen paling with throughout the past year, and she has leukemia. We have fallen in love with this little girl. She is so strong and has a huge heart, so we want to do this walk for her! We will be raising money for the American Cancer Society and walking to represent our sweet, little Harper! It is always such a fun event, lasting from about 7 p.m. Friday night to 8 a.m. the next morning-always having someone walking! But there are lots of activities going on during the time, and it will be a great bonding experience as well!
As you can see, we are very busy the next couple of weeks, but its all-great stuff! We have just been getting back into training, focusing a bit on long course, and also focusing on the schoolwork, as the year is almost to a close! Until the next time-
February 26, 2012
The end of the 2011-2012 college swimming season is wrapping up! We got back about a week ago from the big SEC Championship meet and all around had a pretty solid meet! The girls and boys both placed eighth, and there were a lot of great swims that proved how hard this team worked this season! Most importantly though, I don't think it was the great swims that stood out from the meet last weekend, it was the team unity we had. Each meet this team got stronger and stronger with the amount of team support we had for one another, but I have not seen it quite as dominant as it was last weekend. Everyone was always cheering and always smiling trying to get one another pumped for their next race. No matter the outcome, we always had each other's backs and always had the positive attitude. That to me is what stood out the most last weekend, and that is what a team is truly all about!
We did have two girl swimmers qualify for NCAA's, Amanda Rutqvist and Rachael Schaffer! They will head to Auburn in a couple of weeks to compete in the NCAA swim meet! They are two unbelievable swimmers, and we all look up to them with the amount of drive each of them have in this sport. They swam great and will continue to swim great at the NCAA meet. I have no doubts at all! For the rest of the team, the college season has ended and we now move into training for long course season. For some that means National meets for their country, Olympic Trials, or Grand Prix meets. We are getting a week off for Spring Break but after that, it is back to work in the pool! It never ends! ☺
We have one week left of school before Spring Break, and I know all of us are ready for that break! We are working hard in the classes to get caught back up from SEC's and be able to have some relaxing time over the break. We also have been up to some community service! We participated in the dance marathon! We went in for the athlete hour and competed in the "Guess those lyrics" game and we also were able to visit with a sweet, little girl Mckayla! Mckayla is a miracle child, figuratively and literally! She was born premature at just one pound, but she fought the whole way through and now is a very active, bright, energetic ten-year-old girl! She is quite the little performer, I must say! She sang in front of the whole dance marathon and was absolutely amazing! She also loves to swim and it has been her dream to meet the Gamecock Swim Team! We were so happy to be able to make her wish happen and meet her. I think we enjoyed meeting her just as much as she enjoyed meeting us! She brought a smile onto all of our faces!
We are hoping to do more with Mckayla and will keep you posted! Hopefully you are able to see the photos I took of this sweet little girl and the event! I am going to wrap up this blog, but thank you all, again, so much for your support! We really appreciate it! Until next time-
February 9, 2012
We are less than one week out before the SEC Championships begin! It is crazy that it is already here. I remember in the beginning of the season when we would talk about it, but it was hard to think about four and half months out. But it is FINALLY here and I know we are all so excited for it to start!
Ever since the ECU and Vanderbilt meet, most groups started coming down in yardage and began their resting process. This is what we would call taper, and it is every swimmers favorite time of the year. Taper usually only comes about twice a year, occasionally more than that (if you are lucky!), but we all wait for this moment, when it is all about us resting! We leave for Knoxville, Tenn. on Monday at 12:30 p.m. and the meet starts Wednesday. Diving starts off at noon on Wednesday, I believe, and then swimming kicks off that night with some relay swimming! This year diving will take place during the same time, or same week, as the swimming takes place, unlike last year where diving was the week before swimming. We are really looking forward to being able to support one another as a FULL team at what is, for most of us, the biggest meet of the year!
Everyone is looking great in the water and is just trying to keep up with schoolwork so that next week we can focus totally on swimming fast and having fun! This will be my second SEC's and I can tell you that I am so excited for it! Last year was an incredible experience, one like no other. There is such a different ambiance than anyone will ever encounter. The insanely fast swimming, the loud cheering, and the team unity that you experience is something you will never forget and you will just want more and more of.
I feel certain that we are all ready for very fast swimming and proving to the SEC what we are made of! This team is ready to go and I cannot wait for it to kick off! Thanks for everyone's continual support, and we will not let you down next week! Until the next time...
January 29, 2012
I think everyone can agree with me when I say that these past two days have been a roller coaster of emotions. We completed our last dual meet of the season this past weekend, and we, without a doubt, went out with a bang. As I wrote in my previous blog, this was the last meet of the season for several, and for a select few, the last swim meet ever. This was a weekend full of emotions, being the last time the seniors would ever compete in their home pool.
Along with the last meet, it was also the Senior Meet and the Senior Banquet. The Senior Meet went great! The seniors were all recognized with their families prior to the start of the meet on Saturday, and then a banquet was held Saturday evening, dedicated to all the seniors. It was definitely a day full of laughs, tears, and smiles. This group of seniors is really close and a group that we all look up to follow and hope to be just as close as they are. During the senior remarks toward the end of the banquet, I think we all realized how great of a team we really are. Some days we forget it, but we all are so fortunate to have one another and have the support that we do. Not many people our age, even athletes on other teams, are as close and supportive as we are to one another. We truly are a family, and we will always be a family to one another. We are going to miss the seniors so much next year, but we know they are not gone forever, they will be back- they have to come back at some point... once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock!
With some people wrapping up the season this past weekend, which I might add, they all swam INCREDIBLE this past weekend. I think everyone had at least one best time, and most all of them had all best times. They all really set the bar high for all of us competing at SEC's in two and half weeks, and made us all really pumped for more fast swimming to come. We are headed into the two-week stretch before we are off to Knoxville. All groups should start resting sometime this week, which I know we are all very excited about (something we wait for all year!), and it is time for us to get focused. This is the meet we have been working for all year, and it is time to take the team that we are and show it off to all the other schools in the conference.
We really are one powerful team, and have come so far. I have never seen so much determination, hard work, and support than I have on this team. I, along with everyone else on the team, am very proud to be a Gamecock and cannot wait for more fast swimming to come!
Many thanks to the coaching staff, the families, and the fans for all the support, and to the seniors- WE LOVE YOU ALL!
January 25, 2012
For some, this is their last meet of the season, for others this is their last home college swim meet ever, and for the team this is our last meet before SEC's. Needless to say, it is time to end this part of the season with fast swimming!
Coming up this week, we have our last home meet of the season against ECU and Vanderbilt! It is a little different than our past meets, with it being split up into two days, swimming some events on one day and the rest on the other. This is the first time, at least for me, we have ever done this, and however, I think it will be a really good thing racing two days in a row. This meet is not only the seniors last meet ever, but also, for some, their last meet of the season. Many people on the team are resting for the meet this weekend and they are all going to swim super fast!
There is a lot of excitement in the air with this weekend being the Senior Meet and also people being tapered! Everyone is ready to swim fast, or should I say, "Last one, Fast One." This is our last opportunity before SEC's to get some fast races in. After the meet last weekend against Georgia, I think we are all ready to bounce back and are fired up about swimming fast this weekend. We are ready to redeem ourselves!
We have all been putting in the work this week and everyone, rested or not, is ready to go this weekend! The meet is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27 and 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Carolina Natatorium! I hope to see everyone there, supporting the seniors in their last college meet ever, and the rest of the team! I cannot wait for the fast swimming this weekend!
January 17, 2012
It has been about eight weeks since our last meet and all I can say is, WE ARE BACK IN ACTION! It has without a doubt been a grueling six to seven weeks of lots of training, but after Saturday's victory over Duke, for both men and women's team, we have proven a lot! Everyone went out there today and swam really well, especially for being broken down as much as we were through training. This just proves how fast we are going to swim by the end of the season!
The coaches definitely did their job over the Christmas training by making every practice count. We did get some time at home, but quickly returned for training in Columbia after about a week break. I think we really come together during this time of year. It is definitely one of the hardest parts of the year, but we all really stand behind one another and grow so much as a team.
While growing as a team, we were able to take two days for some team bonding and giving back to the community. One Friday during the first part of Christmas training, the coaches exposed us to what they call a "training trip", with a visit to a ropes course just outside of Charlotte. Many of us were hesitant when we first heard about this trip, but it ended up being a lot of fun and I really think the whole team enjoyed themselves! We were split into four or five groups and spent half of the day traveling through the ropes course, not being able to touch the ground, and trying to complete different activities as a group. This forced us to rely on one another and come to agreements. The second part of the day we proved our team building skills by building a boat, and for some of us, like me, getting over a fear of heights and completing a zipline! All in all it was a great day and I think we left knowing more about one another and became closer as a team.
I tend to talk, or in this case, write a lot, so I think I will try and wrap it up! But I can say over the past several weeks, we have become closer as a team, worked harder than ever, and of course had some fun. After the victory over Duke Saturday, no one could disagree with me when I say all those things. We head to Athens Friday for an SEC match up with Georgia. I expect another meet with some very fast swimming!
November 23, 2011
It's been a busy week for everyone. Last Wednesday we packed up the bus and headed to Chapel Hill, N.C. for the Nike Cup Invitational. Last year was the first year we attended this meet, and it's nice because it's the closest thing to SEC style competition that we will have until we head to Knoxville in February.
The meet is a three-day meet, with the individual events in the same order as they are at SECs. Being on the road also gives us a chance to see what meals and rooming situations will be like.
The competition started on Thursday, and I thought almost everyone kicked it off really well. It was a good meet for almost everyone, and I had one of the best times that I've had at a meet. I thought people were swimming really well, everyone was cheering all of the time and we acted like a real team.
The tough thing about this meet is that while it is set up like SECs and supposed to simulate it, we aren't rested or tapered like we will be at SECs. Everyone is tired when the meet starts and it often gets worse as the meet goes on. This makes it a little bit harder to get excited and that much harder to swim fast, but I thought we all did a fantastic job of pushing right through.
The girls finished the meet off in third after a close race with Duke and the boys finished fourth.
We got back to Columbia late Saturday night and Sunday afternoon a group of us headed out to Sandhills mall to help with a fundraiser for the Palmetto Children's hospital. It was a nasty day out, but we spent the time exploring the mall and inviting people to come out to the fundraiser. The event sponsors said our efforts helped to increase attendance at the event and really helped them reach their goals.
It was back to school and practice on Monday, but only for two days. Everyone started to get antsy about heading home for Thanksgiving, and I think we were all especially excited to have a break from school. After having the week to relax and recharge, some of us will head back to Columbia early to see the Gamecock football team take on our instate rival-Clemson University. It should be a good game but hopefully we win!
Then we only have one more week of classes, exams start and soon it will be Christmas break. I can't believe how fast this semester has gone! We have a break from meets for a while, and that'll give everyone a chance to get some good practices in before we start heading into the final weeks!
November 7, 2011
I can't believe how fast this semester is going! We had our last dual meet of the semester this past Friday against Tennessee and it was exciting to see our team fight as hard as we did. Tennessee is one of the best teams in the country and we knew it was going to be a tough match up going into it but that didn't stop anyone from taking the chance and racing as hard as they possibly could.
After a three meets in a row and then a hard week of practice everyone was dragging a little bit heading into the match-up Friday afternoon but the team did an amazing job of coming together and pushing through. Things started off exciting right away when Jordan Gibbs went head to head with the swimmer from Tennessee and beat her on the last lap! 1000s aren't usually too exciting to watch but this one was and it was really exciting to see her race hard and win. I think that race really set the tone for the rest of the meet because no one swam like they had already given up.
The success we experienced in this meet was hard to measure because we didn't win the meet overall but it was a great opportunity to practice our race skills and get a taste of what the SEC has to offer. Even though we have already swam Alabama earlier this year, I think Tennessee gives our freshmen an even better idea of just how competitive the SEC is and what to expect in February.
This week is our first week off from meets in almost a month and I think we are all looking forward to catching up on some homework and rest before we head to Nike Cup in Chapel Hill, N.C. next weekend. Nike Cup is the only chance we have to practice a multi-day meet before SECs so it's a good chance for everyone to get a feel for the format of the meet and how they need to prepare for each race.
We also have the first home football game in a long time this weekend and even after the loss on Saturday I still can't wait to see the boys back in action in Williams-Brice!
October 31, 2011
In my three years as a Gamecock, the Clemson dual meet has been the most exciting meet of the regular season. This excitement means that when you step on the board you are greeted by the sounds of a whistle signifying the start of a race, a chant for your relays, cheering for a breaststroke event or my personal favorite the Gamecock crow marking a victory.
This past weekend, however, was a little bit different. Due to Clemson's pool being broken, the team was split up. The divers competed at Blatt in Columbia on Friday, and the swimmers competed at a neutral site on Saturday.
This year the normal sounds of the swimming events were gone, but instead we were greeted by the loud cheers of our swimmers up in the stands. When I was originally told these plans I had very mixed feelings. While I was glad to be competing on our home boards, I was upset that the final meeting of our in-state rivalry would be separated. I found myself pleasantly surprised with how much fun it was having the swimmers cheering in the stands. The highlight of the meet for me was when the swimmers rode the rollercoaster in between our breaks. It brought a big smile to my face. This fun lighthearted atmosphere led to some great diving from all of the divers. We have been training very hard and it is certainly paying off. We return to the pool this Friday to duel the Tennessee Vols. This will be a really exciting meet and we look forward to seeing you at the pool. Thanks for all your support!
October 24, 2011
After a rough weekend for our men's team last weekend, both the men and women's teams swept Georgia Tech in a huge win at our first home meet.
After a few days off from school for fall break-meaning later morning practices!-the Yellow Jackets rolled into town Saturday afternoon for our first meet at Blatt to kick off the 2011-2012 season.
This meet was exciting because the whole team got to compete and we started the meet off better than I have ever seen. I don't think I've ever seen our team start out that fast in any dual meet over the past four years so it was really exciting to see everyone get up and go right from the beginning.
After kicking things off with a fast medley relay, our distance swimmers took the 1000 by storm, with the girls going 1-2-3 and the boys going 1-2. And those wins seemed to just fuel our fire as it seemed just about everyone was swimming fast.
Before the meet started we all met in the team room to go over logistics and get psyched up and I think the thing that got me most excited was hearing how well our divers had already done on their first round. Diving has been strong for us for years and its one of my favorite things about the meet! There's no way I could do the flips and twists they do and still manage to not land on my back. It's always exciting to see them nail a dive, and I really think the swimmers pick up on that energy as well.
We're back to a full week of classes this week and then we head back on the road this Saturday to swim against Clemson for the last time ever.
The meet is in Greenville, S.C., a neutral location was chosen this year because Clemson came to Columbia last year and their pool is currently broken, so it was decided to head to a brand new facility.
Things kick off first on Friday night, however, with diving here in Columbia at Blatt.
It will definitely be sad to swim against Clemson for the last time. It has always been one of the most exciting meets of the year and it's never good to see a program go, though I won't deny I'd like to end it with a win!
October 17, 2011
This weekend we had our first meet down in Tallahassee against Florida State and SEC rival, Alabama.
The weekend started off with a bus ride down to Tallahassee. This was by far one of the longest bus rides I've ever been on, but it does give everyone a chance to get some homework done and relax with our teammates before getting into competition mode.
After a wrong turn on the Indian reservation, we made it to Florida State's outdoor pool for a quick loosen up after the long bus ride. I love swimming outside, and we arrived just in time to watch the sun go down as we warmed up. This quick swim the night before is always important because not only does it loosen our muscles up but also gives us one more chance to get a feel for the blocks and walls in a different pool.
After swimming we headed to one of the dining halls on Florida State's campus for dinner. I wish I had had a camera to take a picture of the FSU students when we all filed in. Some students quickly ran for seats, failing to realize that we would happily eat standing up just as long as we got food.
After clearing the buffet, we headed to the hotel to get settled in for the night. It was nice to finally lie down after a long day of traveling and we didn't have to get up until breakfast at 7:30-which is so much better that getting up at 5:30 for practice.
The next morning you could tell everyone was getting excited to race. After weeks of working really hard in the weight room and the pool, it's always exciting to see how fast you can go even if your body is broken down.
The meet was a rough one. It was Florida State's final home meet!-hard to believe since it was only our first meet-and their senior meet, so the Seminoles had a huge support crowd and plenty of excitement going around. Both teams were very fast, but we had lots of good swims from everyone including our freshmen. It's always really exciting to see the freshmen latch onto the excitement rather than be intimated by their first meet.
The girls came out with a win over Alabama but both teams lost to Florida State. While there were lots of positives at this meet, there was also plenty we can and will improve on. After this weekend I know it will be an exciting year with lots of fast swimming!
Our next meet is this Saturday against Georgia Tech! It will be the first home meet of the season!
October 10, 2011
It's been a busy couple of weeks here in Columbia. Between home football games, recruiting and getting ready to start competing, it seems like September has flown by.
The Gamecock football team has been keeping us on our toes with lots of exciting games. There's almost nothing better than spending a Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice stadium and we've had four consecutive weeks of home football games. This year has been unusual too because the weather has been abnormally cool. Usually we are sweating in the stands but this year we have had almost perfect weather where it has been warm but not hot and often there is a breeze that manages to make its way in.
This past week a group of swimmers and divers headed out to Finley Park in Columbia for the Light the Night walk. The walk benefitted Leukemia and Lymphoma research. The whole team helped to raise money and then those of us that didn't have class met up and walked with plenty of other supporters including a few other USC athletic teams. It was great to see the athletes coming together to help a great cause.
We're coming up on a big weekend. On Friday the team will travel down to Tallahassee for the first meet of the season and possibly one of the fastest meets in the country. It is a tri-meet with USC, FSU and Alabama meeting up to kick off the season. The meet will be outside so that will be a change of scenery for us, hopefully it's warm! It should be a really exciting meet and it's always exciting to see how much everyone has improved over the summer. I cannot wait to compete again and get into the swing of meets. This will also be a great way to see how we stand up against another SEC school and a top ACC school.
After Tallahassee, we're back at home for our first home meet against Georgia Tech!
September 19, 2011
This past weekend was a big weekend for everyone on the team.
It was our first home football game, recruiting weekend and the last week we would all practice as one big group.
Not having our first home football game until the middle of September really threw me through a loop. Oftentimes we have had the season opener right here in Columbia, but this year things got switched up and we had two away games first. On top of the late season start, we had some uncharacteristically cold weather down here and that made it feel even later in the year! Very rarely can you wear jeans and jackets to a football game and not be warm; sometimes it's even too warm in November for layers! But we all pulled on our layers and headed out to Williams Brice Saturday afternoon to watch the Gamecock football team take on the Naval Academy. It was a close game, a little too close if you ask me, but we pulled out the win and the team is now 3-0! The first home game of the season is always one of the best because it's great to get back to not only watching the play live, but also dancing to sandstorm and singing along to the band.
This weekend was also the first recruiting weekend for the year. We had ten girls and one guy come in from all over the country and Canada to check out how we do things down here in Columbia. We kicked the weekend off with plenty of tours and a team cookout on Friday and then they got to finish the weekend off at the football game. The recruits and their hosts all got to go to a special recruit tailgate and then head onto the field to see the team warm-up and experience what it's like to look up and see people filing into the stands. I can't imagine performing in front of that many people! But it's an experience I've never forgotten and hopefully they enjoyed it as well.
Having recruits in always reminds me as to why I picked South Carolina. You spend the whole weekend talking about all the great things we are doing here and you can see the excitement building as everyone remembers our goals for the year. Though being a senior this year having recruits reminded me mostly of just how fast time has gone. I remember my recruiting trip to USC and even still have the poster the girls I stayed with made for me!
This week is a busy week for all of us. We are finally kicking it into full practice mode and splitting up into our specific practice groups and that will change up some of our schedules as we settle into a new groove.
It was bittersweet finishing up my first preseason. Like I said before, I can't believe how fast time has gone and I never thought I'd actually be finishing up my final year here at USC but here we are. Preseason is always the hardest time of the year for me, but it's also the most exciting. It's the time of the year when we set our goals and I love working out as one big team, especially for our circuit. It's one of the times I feel our team bonds best and it makes me really excited to see us all cheering for each other.
Next weekend we have another group of recruits coming in and another home football game! I also think it will be warming up so I guess we can all put away our sweats for another few weeks.
August 28, 2011
We have officially finished our first full week of school and it was a busy one.
We kicked off the week with a compliance meeting on Monday. For the upper classmen, the meeting always seems kind of redundant, but for the freshmen it is the first glimpse into what collegiate swimming will be like. Between learning about drug tests to the rules of the NCAA, I think this meeting is usually overwhelming at first because it's the first time you realize that you're a part of something bigger.
After the compliance meeting, we were up bright and early Tuesday morning for our first day of circuit. Our preseason circuit is at the stadium and I still get chills working out in that weight room. Our weight room at the pool is really nice, but the football weight room is bigger and I think it's pretty cool to be working out at the football stadium.
Tuesday afternoon was our first captain led swim practice and while the first day is usually a little crazy it's nice to get back in the pool with everybody. We had two other swim practices throughout the week and another circuit at the football weight room Thursday morning.
Saturday morning we got to see the sunrise as we had our last circuit of the week on the football practice fields. We spent over an hour running sprints, flipping tires and even pushing sleds. It wasn't the typical workout for most of us, but I think we all agreed it was hard! I could hardly walk Saturday and Sunday and after our workout we split into groups to pick up trash on one of the main roads by campus. The trash pick-up is a community service event that we've done over the years and we always manage to find some interesting stuff.
This next week is another full week of classes and practices and then we'll wrap the week up with our first football game!! The game is out of town but I know we are all looking forward to seeing the Gamecocks play!
February 22, 2011
I can't believe SECs have come and gone already. It's like the holidays. You spend months preparing and thinking about it...and then, suddenly, they're gone. I remember seeing "22 weeks" up on the countdown in the girls' locker room, and now we're back to a year.
It was definitely an exciting week, if even a little overwhelming. I feel like I need another week off from classes to get back into the groove. All the work was worth it as the guys' team finished seventh, their highest finish since 2007, and the girls' team finished sixth, our highest finish since 2006.
We all arrived in Florida on Monday after a long bus ride, but each team arrived in very different places on the scoreboard. Since Florida's diving boards are over their competition pool, diving SECs took place the week prior to swimming SECs. The divers on the men's side struggled, but our female divers did amazing! Taryn Zack even won the 1-meter! Courtney Forcucci and Chay Malvasio also scored in their events, and Allison Barr dove for the first time since her accident at the beginning of January. The female divers' performances put the girls' swim team in a great position before the meet even started. We kicked off the meet in third place with over 60 points already. The guys' swim team was in a different position. They started from the bottom in eighth place and had to fight back to catch up to Kentucky throughout the week.
On Tuesday we all started figuring out our routines before the meet started on Wednesday. Wednesday morning was a normal morning swim for most of the team, but Max Heinze, Matt Columbus and I swam a time trial, kicking the meet off a few hours early. A time trial is a race that is sanctioned but not necessarily organized by stroke. So what that means is that although I did breaststroke while the other two girls in my heat did freestyle, my time still counted. Time trials are typically used as a way to determine the participants of relays or to swim events that you wouldn't be able to do because you are already entered in the maximum amount of events...or because it falls too closely to another event you are entered in.
Wednesday evening was when the meet started officially with the 800-yard freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay. That first night is always exciting but extremely nerve-racking. In fact, I think we were all nervous until we hit the water for our first event. It's hard to put into words just how much work and energy is put into this final meet. It isn't just the time spent in the pool, it's the time spent stretching, resting and worrying about how you will swim. Taper is the best time of the year, but it is also extremely nerve-racking because no one really knows if it is going the way it should until you race.
On that first night, we all got a taste of how loud the meet was going to be, what warm-up conditions would be like and just how fast people were going to go. Florida's facility, while very nice, is not nearly as big as Auburn and Georgia (locations of the past two SEC Championships). As a team we lucked out with our seating. The diving boards had been removed and South Carolina, Kentucky and Auburn had chairs set up at the end of the pool, opposite of the starting end. This meant that we could see what was going on and we didn't have to climb the bleachers to seats that were intermixed with parents and other teams. It was really nice to be able to move around and cheer for our teammates. I remember the first night of SECs my freshman year was a huge, exciting wake-up call. It never fails to amaze me how fast the SEC really is - best times in the country are normal, and SEC records seem to fall left and right. While other conferences certainly have fast swimmers, it seems the SEC has tons of them. To make it back to finals it seems like you have to reach a NCAA B-cut just to swim in the consolation heat, not even the championship heat. This level of competition can be both exciting and intimidating, so it is always interesting to see how everyone reacts.
Thursday morning kicked off what was a very exciting three days. Stephanie Hellenga kicked the meet off with a best time in her 500 freestyle and it seemed we all followed from there. For the six sessions of swimming, best times were frequent and more people on the team made NCAA B-cuts and A-cuts than I think anyone imagined. Everyone's swims were exciting, from Jay Warner surprising everyone by swimming faster than he ever has before and making it to finals (and breaking a school record in the 100 backstroke) to Michael Flach getting third place and making it on the medal stand for the second year in a row in the 500 freestyle. But I think freshman Amanda Rutqvist's win in the 200 breaststroke on the last night was one of the most exciting things I have seen. Last year when Michael got third in the 500 freestyle it was like a sign to the rest of the SEC that South Carolina is here and ready to compete, but to see the faces of the Auburn, Florida and Georgia fans (who had swimmers winning races left and right all week) when a freshman from South Carolina beat them all was amazing. It was that confirmation we needed after Michael made the statement last year. I have never heard the team yell so loud or be so excited and it was completely warranted. Amanda's win was the first one EVER by a female USC swimmer. We have had female divers make the medal stand but never a swimmer.
While Amanda's swim was exciting and important to all of us, I think it was especially important to our seniors. The seniors that finished their collegiate swimming careers either this past weekend or a few weeks ago against Georgia and Alabama have put their hearts into turning this team into a serious competitor in the SEC and the top finishes on both sides combined with the final scores show that we are definitely moving in the right direction. I want to congratulate all of our seniors and thank them for putting in the countless hours into making this team into what it is today. Allison Barr, Shaylyn Blake, Blair Bowers, Bridget Halligan, Stephanie Hellenga, Kelly Kirchler, Brett Sexton, Megan Sparks, Gray Tedder and Taryn Zack - you guys did amazing and we all can't wait to see what all you accomplish in the future!
With all the fast swimming this past weekend it means that the season is far from over for many of the members of the team. This coming weekend a few of the kids will head to the University of Georgia for the Last Chance Meet to try and swim faster and possibly make it to the NCAAs, which will take place in March. Thanks to all of the parents who cheered us on at the meet and all of your support throughout the year! Go Cocks!
February 2, 2011
It was a busy weekend for everyone here on the team as we got to see some of our teammates swim at their best and others get a glimpse of just how fast they can go at SECs, and we ended it by saying goodbye to our senior class.
Saturday morning kicked off with the senior presentation before the beginning of the meet against Alabama and Georgia. It was weird for me to see some of my closest friends wrapping up what is their final year of collegiate swimming. It doesn't seem that long ago that they stood beside me as sophomores (when I was a freshman) and watched the senior class walk then. We all laughed about how many more practices they had before they would be done, but in all honesty, those past couple of years have flown by.
It was a great meet to send our senior class off with. Both the men's and the women's teams took a win over Alabama. This meant our guys finished the regular season 10-1 - not too shabby, that's for sure! Meanwhile, the women's team preserved a winning record (7-6) and ended on a high note with a win against an SEC rival. There were some great races this weekend and a lot of excitement created by the members of the team who were shaved and tapered. It was exciting to see my teammates put up best times and swim fast because they all deserved it. I wish I could recount some of the best races, but when I try to remember the meet it seemed exciting the whole time.
Saturday night we all gathered at Williams-Brice Stadium for a dinner and ceremony honoring our seniors. With 10 of our teammates in their last season here at South Carolina it created a bittersweet atmosphere for me. I am as close to many of these kids as I am to the kids in my own class, and it will be really sad to not have them on the pool deck next year. I am really excited to see what all they will accomplish in the years to come. Whether it's the excitement of getting into grad school or landing that first job, I know they will all do well in whatever they choose to pursue. They are some of the hardest-working people I know, but they also knew how to keep the team excited and how to make practice fun. I loved their combined speech. It really brought back some great memories and stories that I have heard over the past couple of years.
I can't believe this season is almost over and for me the scary part is that by the time SECs wraps up the rest of the year will fly by and then soon I'll be in my final year here at Carolina! That's so scary to me....
SEC Championships are about two weeks away in Gainesville! Go Cocks!
Editor's note: Special thanks to Tammy Sexton for providing the photos of the seniors.
January 25, 2011
This past weekend we did something that I have never done before: two dual meets back-to-back. The coaches decided to schedule multiple meets right in a row so that we could start to get a feel for what it will be like at the SEC Championships to have to get up and race three or four days in a row. It was definitely harder on Saturday after the multiple bus rides on Friday, but I think it was a good experience for all of us.
We left early Friday morning for Greenville, N.C., to race East Carolina. It ended up being a good meet for both the men and the women as both teams took the win. However, it was the hardest pool to get out of that I have ever been to or seen. We had some really exciting races, as two relays set pool records along with Michael Flach in the 1000 (proud to say I was his counter for that race! Haha). It was a great start to the weekend and it was nice to get a win on the women's side.
That night we drove to Wilmington, N.C., where we stayed for the evening before our meet the next afternoon against UNC Wilmington. It was their senior meet and alumni weekend, so it was a full house at the pool, and they made a lot of noise. I definitely wasn't expecting it to be that loud at the meet, but it did make the meet much more exciting!
It was a rough meet from the first event for both teams, but I think we all rallied together well to make it a competition. The guys pulled out a win while the girls struggled to overcome the gap and couldn't quite make it up for the win. The meet had some high points though, with Rachael Schaffer setting another pool record in the 200 IM! I think that the 200 IM was probably the most exciting part of the meet for the women's team because the girls that swam it put together some amazing races and ended up finishing 1,2,3 and 5 to set us up with a chance to win.
After the meet we quickly loaded the bus - big thanks to Mrs. Sexton for helping to pass out dinner - because I know we were all eager to get home. This week is leading up to a big meet for everyone. I know we are all hoping to go fast, and we are going to need to. With two SEC rivals coming to town it is going to be a tough meet, but definitely an exciting one. After the meet we will have our annual senior banquet, and it's always exciting to see everyone all dressed up and get a chance to remember all of the good times we had with this year's senior class! Also a note to senior parents: if your son or daughter didn't tell you, we need a few baby pictures for the slide show at the Gamecock Gala at the end of the year. You can email those to email@example.com with their name in the subject line! Thanks! =)
The men's team is now 9-0 and has moved up in the rankings to #22! It's going to be really exciting to see just how fast we can all go as we near the end of the season!
This weekend's meet is Saturday at noon, which is a change from the original 2:00 start time. Hope to see everyone there! Go Cocks!
January 17, 2011
It was a crazy week. Instead of starting classes on Monday, Christmas break was extended a bit because of some snow here in Columbia. We got about four inches, which for Columbia is a lot - though I think everyone from the north couldn't believe how much chaos those few inches of snow created as it seemed the entire city shut down for Monday and Tuesday. The biggest problem was how cold it has been down here. The snow still hasn't completely melted; I don't know if it'll ever melt in front of my apartment because it's always shaded, and there was plenty of ice all around Columbia. I had trouble walking down my stairs to my car Monday morning, but I am proud to say that I successfully completed my first time driving in the snow without any mishaps! I think we all enjoyed our extra few days without classes and took advantage of the rare occurrence of snow. I saw pictures of the giant snow man our freshmen girls built and heard about an igloo some of the seniors built.
We left Friday afternoon for Durham, N.C., for a meet against Duke and Queens University. Friday night we got to Durham and then headed to dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was nice to be able to sit and relax with our teammates over dinner before heading to the hotel for meetings. For as many years as I have been a swimmer, it still amazes me as to how much some of my teammates eat! Some of the boys ate two full entrees and I think Bridget Halligan would have eaten a second one as well if the boys hadn't gotten them all first.
Saturday morning we all got up bright and early and went to the pool for a wake-up swim since we hadn't swum since we left Columbia. Then we all went back to the hotel for breakfast and I think it was probably one of the best breakfasts we've ever had. They had some great selections on the buffet and then they also made eggs to order. It was a great way to start the day before the meet.
Before heading to the pool a small group of us went to the Duke University hospital to visit a boy that I used to coach in summer league. Coach Moody, Ryan Connolly, Michael Flach, Dan Jackson, Lindsey Olson and I went to the hospital for a little while before the meet to hang out with Carlos Zatz. Carlos is a 12 year-old boy from Charlotte who was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. He lives in my neighborhood back at home, and I have gotten to know his family over the past couple of years. When we learned about his illness and that he was at Duke, we decided to send a small group to the hospital to see how he was doing and just hang out with him for a while. Carlos had a bone marrow transplant in December and is doing exceptionally well. He actually is being released from the hospital on Wednesday but will stay in Durham to continue treatment and monitoring by the doctors at Duke. It was uplifting to see him in good spirits and better health than anyone expected. Carlos also may have convinced me to cheer for the Steelers - his favorite team - in the playoffs...which works since the Carolina Panthers didn't even come close to the postseason.
After visiting Carlos, we hurried back to the hotel and hopped on the bus to go to the meet. The meet started out rough for both the men and the women, but both teams rallied back. The guys put on a stellar performance to beat Duke 165-135. The girls had a rougher time but finished up stronger than expected, though still losing 160-140. Two pool records fell at the meet and both were by South Carolina swimmers! Amanda Rutqvist took the 200 breaststroke record and Rachael Schaffer took the 400 IM. It was really exciting to see two of our freshmen swim so fast in January, which I think is the hardest month to swim fast because we are all just waiting to begin our taper.
The win by the men's team improved their record to 7-0 which is not only the best in school history for the swim team, but for any South Carolina sport this school year!! It's really exciting to see our boys swimming so well and I can't wait to see how they finish up at SECs in February. Our next meet is this Friday at East Carolina University, and then we turn right around and head to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Saturday. It's going to be tough having two meets in a row, but it'll be good practice for the SEC Championships where we will be competing for four days straight.
January 10, 2011
We have been back in Columbia for a couple of weeks now and classes are just starting up this week. For the past two weeks everyone on the team has been working through this final push before the season starts to wind down towards the end of the season. These past two weeks were tough. Every group was at the pool multiple times a day, swimming, lifting or doing dryland and while it was hard to stay excited it was nice to have the whole team going through it together. It's nice to know that while you are tired and sore, so is everyone else and that we can all do it together. The most exciting part of these past two weeks was when someone would have a really great practice. It's always inspiring to see someone be able to push past through the pain and go really fast.
We capped off two weeks of hard work with a fast meet here in Columbia when Kentucky and College of Charleston came to town on Friday afternoon. Going into the meet both the men's and women's team knew this was an important meet. For the men who had already broken into the top 25 nationally, a loss to Kentucky would most likely push them out of the rankings, while for the women a win over Kentucky would give us the best chance to move into the top 25. It was a tough meet for both sides right from the beginning. The men started to pull away from Kentucky right away after a win in the 400 medley relay, but the women's meet stayed tight.
A mix-up in the women's 100 breaststroke disqualified the participants from both South Carolina and Kentucky, which meant a win by Amanda Rutqvist didn't count towards our points but Kentucky didn't score any off the event either. Going into the last individual event, the 200 IM, and the last relay, the 400 free, the women were within striking distance. Kelly Tannhauser came up with a huge swim in the 200 IM to take second behind Rachael Schaffer and put us in a position to win the meet so everyone was really fired up for the final relay and the chance to beat the wildcats. Our A relay went really fast, but wasn't quite able to keep up with the Kentucky women, who are known for their strength in the sprint freestyle event. In the end the men took the win easily over Kentucky and College of Charleston, while the women dominated College of Charleston and just barely lost to Kentucky.
It was a pretty good ending considering how hard we had all worked over the past two weeks, and it was the best meet after Christmas training that I've been in, with some really fast swims. On Saturday we wrapped up the weekend with a team dinner at Mellow Mushroom and then a trip to the basketball game where the Gamecocks beat No. 22 ranked Vanderbilt in the SEC opener!
We got several inches of snow last night and the first day of classes were canceled on Monday! It's hard to adjust back into the school schedule with classes and homework along with the training but the season is almost over. There are less than four weeks until the last dual meet at home versus Georgia and Alabama and less than six weeks until the start of SECs in Florida. Taper will be starting soon and it's always exciting to see just how fast everyone can go after all of the work we've put in!
Our next meet is Saturday, January 15, at Duke! Go Cocks!
November 8, 2010
It was quite an exciting weekend for our team as a group headed to Arkansas for a tri-meet with Arkansas and Missouri last Thursday. It was no ordinary travel trip though. We took two chartered planes! We've never flown to a meet in the three years that I have been here, and it was a very exciting first. On the trip we all joked as to how we felt like the football team because our buses pulled right up to the planes where we bypassed security and long lines and simply walked right onto our planes. We had a women's plane and a men's plane. On the trip out, the plane the women were taking was a bit late so we had to hang out in the airport while the men headed right off. We were waiting in Columbia for about an hour but were quickly put on the plane once it was refueled. For some of us it was the first time we had ever been on such a small plane. The planes each seated 30 people and it was the first time I had ever been on a plane with a propeller. The ride was a bit noisy with the propellers - and a little rocky when we hit some turbulence - but all in all, it was a good flight (most of us simply slept the whole way out).
Once in Arkansas we were all a bit surprised to see how small the town of Fayetteville was. To be honest, there wasn't much besides the university, but all of the trees that surrounded the town were turning beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange. We then headed to the pool to get in a workout before heading back to the hotel. At the hotel we ate some dinner - some poor catering company learned that swimmers really can eat more than anyone else =) - and then all headed to our rooms to relax before the meet the next day.
The next morning we got breakfast, headed to the pool for a wake-up swim, then back to the hotel to rest and gather our things before checking out and heading back to the pool for the meet. Arkansas only has a women's team so the women faced off with Arkansas and Missouri, while the men had a dual meet with Missouri. It was a very exciting meet with some of our swimmers pulling out some huge wins.
On the men's side our distance boys took some huge wins. Brooks Ross won the 1000 by almost 10 seconds and then teamed up with Matt Columbus and Dan Jackson to go 1-2-3 in the 500. Gerard Rodriguez also won the 200 freestyle by almost 3 seconds, Michael Flach won the 200 butterfly by 4 seconds, Bobby Cave took the 200 breaststroke by 4 seconds and an especially exciting race was the 200 backstroke where Chris Kelly and James Crawford went into the last turn behind John Higgins of Missouri, but both had amazing turns and underwaters and came up ahead to take the first and second places.
The women's team also had some exciting races, with Amanda Rutqvist and Rachael Schaffer teaming up to take first and second place in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Rachael also turned in a winning 400 Individual Medley time. This was the first time this year that our team has had the chance to swim that event. As usual our divers did a fantastic job. Both Rylan Ridenour and Courtney Forcucci took home wins, with both winning on the 3-meter boards.
Our men's team took away a win over Missouri, making them the first South Carolina team to ever end the first semester undefeated! The women's team fought hard but, unfortunately, fell to both Missouri and Arkansas.
The next month is going to go extremely fast! We all have one full week of classes and then the next week we head to the Nike Cup in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Wednesday. The Nike Cup is a three day meet, so it'll be the first chance we all have to practice what SECs will be like in the spring. Then we come back Saturday night, have class on Monday and Tuesday and then we're off for Thanksgiving break. It'll be a busy week as all of the training groups spend some time refining and working hard going into Nike Cup. Go Cocks!
November 1, 2010
What an exciting weekend! The team kicked it off perfectly with a win over our in-state rival Clemson, retaining our undefeated record! That was probably one of the most exciting meets I have ever swum in, including SECs. We got the chance to showcase all of the new renovations on our pool to a packed house Friday night. It was standing room only by the time the meet got started and I think it was exciting for everyone. The meet was close, but we won some really close races and ended up taking the win on both the men's and women's sides. It was the last time we will ever get to swim Clemson at home because unfortunately the swim team is being phased out in 2012. I think the loss of their team is sad for everyone on our team as well because we will lose one of the most exciting meets of the year. But we finished the rivalry off well with a win at home! Our freshmen have really proven to be strong additions to the team, and it's really exciting to see everyone doing so well!
We all want to thank all of the parents, family members and friends that came to watch the meet. Your cheering and support made the atmosphere even more exciting and I know we were all excited to see everyone!
Saturday was another busy day. We woke up bright and early Saturday morning and headed back to the pool for practice and then we all hurried home to get ready for the football game. The football team took on the University of Tennessee and came out with a win. It was a nerve-wracking game at times, but the Gamecocks took the win and we got to enjoy the victory for the rest of the day.
After the game some of us took naps, some worked on homework and some hung out with their parents, but I think all of us were preparing for Halloween Saturday night! There were so many great costumes! A lot of our freshmen girls all dressed up as Native American tribe, we had three blind mice, a grandma and grandpa and plenty of other exciting costumes!
Sunday morning a bunch of us met up at the Colonial Life Arena to help set up for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund Walk here in Columbia. Lydia Hackert headed up a community service activity where about twenty of us rolled out of bed bright and early and went out to help set up tents, tables and booths for the walk that started at noon. It's always exciting to see the team working together to help out the community!
Along with all of this excitement we also had recruits in this weekend and I know our freshmen were busy showing off our amazing school to them all. They chose a great weekend to come and I think we all had a good time with them!
Our next meet comes up fast! A smaller travel team will head to the University of Arkansas for a tri-meet for the women and a dual-meet for the men! Arkansas only has a women's team so the University of Missouri will be there as well for our guys to have a chance to race. It is also an exciting meet because we will actually be flying there! In my three years, we have never flown to a meet so this will be a new and exciting experience! November is going to move fast, though, and soon we'll be heading to Nike Cup in Chapel Hill, North Carolina!
October 21, 2010
This past week, our men's and women's team had the first dual meet of the 2010-2011 season. The women's team had a tri-meet against SEC foe Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky University. Since Vanderbilt only has a women's team, the Gamecock men raced WKU. The meet took place in Nashville at the Tracy Caulkins Aquatic Center near the Vanderbilt campus. Some of the people on our team, including myself, have raced there before while competing for our club teams so it was bittersweet to come back as a collegiate athlete with our new teammates. The drive to Nashville took about seven hours. Luckily there were televisions in the bus for us to watch movies to try and help the time pass by.
Everyone seemed very excited to finally race and show off the hard work that we've been putting in the pool. Some of us were a bit nervous because we haven't raced in a meet in a while, but after warming up and getting a quick pep talk from our head coach our nervousness seemed to turn to pure energy. For the seniors, it was our last "first" meet ever and for the freshmen, it was their first time to showcase what they could really bring to our team. This created a very electric atmosphere and people just seemed to feed off of it. After the beginning of the meet started off well, it seemed like a domino effect was created. We had an NCAA provisional cut and also some best times. Some of our men greatly improved on their times from the first meet last year. Both the men's and women's team had many people step up and win some very close races. Our divers did an amazing job bringing in top places on all the boards. The women ended up winning both dual meets, and the men also walked away with a win in their meet! It was definitely a great way to start our season!
A very exciting honor was given to five members of our team this past week! After having a great meet Courtney Forcucci was named SEC Female Diver of the Week, Ryland Ridenour was SEC Male Diver of the Week, Chris Kelly was SEC Male Swimmer of the Week, Rachael Schaffer was SEC Female Freshman of the Week and Gerard Rodriguez was SEC Male Freshman of the Week. All of this recognition is very exciting! It's a really good sign to see the team being recognized in such a tough conference and we all can't wait to see where we go from here!
Now we all head back to the grind to put in some hard work before we swim our arch rival Clemson on Friday, October 29th at 5:00 p.m. at the Blatt P.E. Center. We would love everyone's support to defend our house! Go Cocks!
October 11, 2010
Wow, what a crazy couple of weeks it has been here in Columbia!
Let's start with the most exciting...SOUTH CAROLINA FOOTBALL BEAT #1 ALABAMA! For the first time in the school's history the Gamecock football team beat the number one ranked team in the nation. It was the most exciting game I have ever been to, and I was there when our basketball team beat #1 Kentucky last year. The stadium was electric. To see all 82,993 fans - well, I guess a few thousand less because the Alabama fans certainly weren't celebrating with us - dancing to Sandstorm, waving their towels and just screaming their heads off was an experience like no other. Throughout the whole game everyone's faces just said, "Are we really going to be able to do this?" And we did! I don't think that was an experience any of us will soon forget!
Another exciting time for the team was when we all received our new gear from the school! Bags filled with t-shirts, sweats, shorts and shoes were given to everyone! Our "Under Armour Christmas," as we called it, was at the end of September, and it makes the whole experience seem more real. It is always such a great feeling walking around campus in your team gear, letting everyone else know about the work that you put in.
As a team we also participated in the SEC "Together We Can" food drive. It took place Sept. 20-26, and the women's team collected 127 cans! Both the men's and women's teams brought cans in individually and helped collect them at the Gamecock Bi-Lo here in Columbia. I love doing community service as a team. I think it really brings us together and it's nice to see everyone giving back to the community. As Halloween approaches there will be plenty more service opportunities coming up, with some of our freshman girls already signed up to help out with "Boo at the Zoo", at the Riverbanks Zoo.
We have been split up into training groups for two weeks now and everyone is getting excited for our first meet this weekend in Nashville, Tenn., against Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky. Since it is fall break this week, the team will leave Friday for Saturday's competition and not have to worry about missing any classes. It will be really exciting to see how everyone does at the start of the season, especially our new freshmen who have never experienced meets like this.
College meets are different from most any other kind of meet I had ever participated in prior to coming to school. They are extremely fast-paced and the energy on the pool deck is enthralling. They usually only last a couple of hours, so unlike some of those multiple-day meets we all participated in during high school, each swimmer will be expected to get up and race with very little time between each event. It's always exciting, though, to see the team as a whole really get behind one another and cheer for everybody.
The team heads to Nashville this weekend and then we will compete at home against our biggest rival, Clemson, on Halloween weekend! Go Cocks!
September 20, 2010
It's been a very exciting and very busy couple of weeks down here in Columbia. Last weekend the Gamecock football team took a huge win over Georgia, making standing out in the Columbia heat and humidity completely worth it. The game against Georgia is always exciting, because it's almost always a close game and because the section where we sit is shown on ESPN fairly frequently. This year didn't fail to disappoint with the Gamecocks taking the win, lots of excitement in the student section and a few appearances for all of us on TV!
This past week was another busy week as we continue to train hard and adjust to classes. We had our first morning swim practice last Monday and we did our first test set last Friday. A test set is a part of our workout where the goal is to go as fast as you can for as long as you can. This one in particular gives the coaches a training pace for each swimmer, which they will use to create intervals for the rest of the year.
Last weekend was Parents' Weekend here at South Carolina and some team members were able to see their parents for the first time since coming to school. Being an athlete is hard sometimes because the demands of training don't create an environment that allows us to go home for the shorter weekend breaks, like Labor Day. So it's always nice when we have an opportunity to see our families.
This next week is our last week of training in one large group and of doing circuit in the morning. Next week there will be multiple changes when we switch the pool to short course yards, split into our training groups and possibly even begin a new training schedule depending on the structure of your group. This time of the year is one of the most exciting because it is the time that holds all of the possibilities but it is also one of the most difficult as we really buckle down on our training before meets start.
Our first meet is now less than a month away, and I think we are all getting excited to get up and race again! Go Cocks!
September 7, 2010
This past week was a good one for all of us, but I think it was especially exciting for our new freshmen. The week started out with our first complete circuit Tuesday morning. Our circuits are designed to help condition our bodies for not only the swim practices to come, but also to loosen up, and prime our joints, ligaments and muscles for the weight lifting sessions that will start later in the year. While circuit always makes me feel as though I have been hit by a bus, I actually kind of enjoy it. This is one of the only times during the year that the whole team works out together so it gives us all a chance to interact with teammates that aren't in our training groups. Personally I also enjoy the way they whole team comes together and pushes each other to do the best we can do as a team and as individuals. We will continue doing circuits like this for about four weeks before our training schedule switches and we break up into the different training groups for the rest of the year.
Another first was our first football game! Thursday night, the Gamecocks took on Southern Mississippi and it was a game that went exactly as we wanted. The night started off kind of crazily as we had practice till four that afternoon and game-day in Columbia is like no other. People set up tailgates early in the morning, even for night games, all of the roads in Columbia are rearranged so they all go to the stadium and students dress in their garnet and black first thing in the morning. While some of us were not lucky enough to be off of class Thursday night, the rest of us jumped out of the pool and headed straight to the stadium to try and make it in time for kick off and to see the many Carolina traditions that take place beforehand. It ended up being a great night with the Gamecocks walking away with a solid victory!
Something else that our freshmen got to experience for the first time this past week was being hosts to recruits. Our first batch of recruits came into Columbia Thursday afternoon in time for the football game and stayed in South Quad with our freshmen till Saturday morning. Having recruits is always an exciting experience. As freshmen it gives them a chance to show off everything that they have figured out and learned in their time here, and as a team it gives us a chance to see what our future teammates might be like. Besides going to the football game and seeing campus, the recruits also went to the men's soccer game against Clemson. Any time a South Carolina team plays Clemson, it is bound to be exciting and the second half of the soccer game lived up to that reputation, beating Clemson 2-0!
This next week will be another exciting one even though we all have Monday off of classes for Labor Day, we're all sure to be busy. The Gamecock football team takes on the University of Georgia on Saturday, and that is always an exciting day as both teams compete for an SEC win! As a swimming and diving team, we're also only a little over a month away from our first meet! Go Cocks!
August 25, 2010
I can't believe how fast summer went, but I am happy to have everyone back in Columbia and to have finally gotten to spend some time with the new members. It has been a very busy couple of weeks with all kinds of meetings and getting used to classes, but I think we are all starting to get in a rhythm.
We started our fall circuit Tuesday morning. This week's circuit is just an introductory time, so we are just learning how to do the circuit so that next week we can all just jump right into it. It was also our first early morning practice and it's always interesting to see how everyone does in the morning. While we didn't do much of the circuit we had a difficult power set at the end that involved fast movements with very little rest. While I hate the feeling of getting back in shape, I am definitely excited to be in shape.
On Monday we took our official team picture at the Longstreet theater right on campus. The picture is always exciting because you get to see everyone dressed up and the whole team gets together, though it was quite warm. We are in Columbia, so I guess that shouldn't be any surprise! After the team photo some of us headed over to get new headshots done for the website and media guide.
We all have a couple of more meetings this week but soon things will settle down as we get into a rhythm. Our first football game is in a little over a week which is always exciting because we will all get to walk out on the field at halftime! And our first meet is October 16, which will be here before we know it! Go Cocks!
BLOG POSTS FROM THE 2009-10 SEASON
February 9, 2010
Well, we are officially a week away from when some of the team packs up and heads to Georgia to compete at the Southeastern Conference Championships. I have definitely started to notice a change in the air as the group heading to SECs are well into their taper, and those that are heading to the Last Chance meet a week later begin theirs soon.
I love taper time. For those who are not familiar with swimming lingo and are wondering what taper actually is, it is basically a resting period before a big competition. As the year goes on, our muscles are constantly being worn down and it becomes harder and harder for us to go fast, so a few weeks or days before the biggest meet of the season, our training becomes a little bit easier so that our muscles can recover to their maximum potential. It is basically like a volcano - during the taper all of our energy starts to store up in our bodies, much like the magma and pressure does in a volcano. Then at the meet, if the timing is right, that energy erupts out and we are able to swim at our maximum potential. (That little geology reference was for Coach Steve =). )
Now, as much fun as it is to taper and have energy and shorter practices, taper time is also a stressful time for both the coaches and swimmers. The amount of rest needed differs with each individual and too much or too little can hurt the final results seen. So it is a constant balance of maintaining endurance while resting enough to produce power. These next couple of weeks should be exciting! We've all worked hard this year and I know I can't wait to see how everyone performs at their season-ending meets!
January 14, 2010
Wow, how fast time has gone these past couple of weeks. It seems like only a few days ago that we were all anxiously awaiting our time to go home and see our friends and family, but now we have been home and back to Columbia and even finished our training camp. We all arrived back in Columbia refreshed and ready for the next couple of weeks of hard work that lay in front of us. We kicked off the training trip with a team-wide water polo tournament the first Wednesday we were back. It finished in a tie for the overall team championship, but I think we all enjoyed a change of pace in practice and the friendly competition that ensued.
After a few more days of practice, a group of us headed down to Birmingham on New Year's Day for the PapaJohns.com Bowl. I think everyone enjoyed the trip down and hanging out the night before in our hotel rooms, but the game was definitely an experience I will never forget. I have never been so cold in my whole life! The first half of the game we were in the sun, so it wasn't quite so bad, but once the sun went down I thought we were going to freeze! My bottom lip even went numb! The game itself, however, was not something worth remembering. Our football team struggled to say the least, but most of us decided to stay and watch the whole game before walking as fast as we could to the warmth of our cars. We headed back that night after the game so we could be back in Columbia for practice the next morning.
Wednesday was the next eventful day for us. After morning practice a group of seven of us headed out with coaches Abby and Steve to visit a special needs dog shelter. Steve and Abby have been visiting for months now and are preparing to adopt two of the dogs after SECs! When we first arrived we helped the owner rearrange her stock room and hopefully helped organize things so it will be easier for her to find things. After the work, we were rewarded with a chance to play and walk some of the dogs. We were all anxious to meet Abby and Steve's soon-to-be babies, Bo and Annie. They were adorable and they absolutely love Steve and Abby! We also met the other dogs, including a 170 pound Mastiff who was blind and a dog named Chester, whose back legs were in a wheelchair. I got the chance to walk Chester. He was surprisingly quick despite the wheelchair, but he was also easily distracted by smells! It was a great way to spend the morning and it will be exciting to hear about Steve and Abby's adventures with their new pets come February!
To end the training camp, a group headed down to College of Charleston on Saturday for our first meet of the new semester. The meet itself was a different format from usual. There were no 100s of stroke, and a bunch of us were entered in events we don't typically do. The pool was also a 25 meter pool so we all got a chance to race in a pool that was a little more familiar to our foreign athletes, as that is how they race at home typically. The Gamecocks won the meet on both sides! Now it is time for classes to start back up and soon we'll be in the familiar practice and class schedule, but things this semester will be a bit different from last semester. We're on the downward slope now toward our season ending meets. Whether it be SECs, the last chance meet, or NCAAs, taper will be here soon! We do have a few more dual and tri-meets left before that, though. Our next meet is Saturday at 2:00 here in Columbia against Duke University. It should be a good match-up; last year it was one of our closest meets all year! Go Cocks!
December 3, 2009
I can't believe it is December already! Sorry I haven't written in so long, but it's been so busy around here. Between the Gamecock Invite, Thanksgiving break and now preparing for exams, it seems like everything is a whirlwind!
The Gamecock Invite was a long, but exciting three days of swimming for everyone involved. We had some amazing swims, including a couple of NCAA cuts met! I have to say that Saturday night watching the 400 freestyle relays was probably the most exciting part of the meet for me. Not only did one of our women's relays get their NCAA B cut, but our men went 1-2-3 in their heat! It was quite a way to end the meet. After the meet we had a few days of practice before almost everyone headed home to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family. I think everyone was thankful for the time with their families, and we all came back excited for what I would consider the most important football game of the year. We played Clemson last Saturday, and there was nothing better than being in the stands watching our Gamecocks hand Clemson a huge loss, defeating them 34-17.
Now we're all back at school and it seems this week is probably one of the most difficult yet. Between school and swimming, I think everyone is trying to balance studying with training. So far, this has definitely been the most difficult week of practice for me, and I think most everyone else has felt the same way, but this is the most important time of the year. These next few weeks are when we lay the final foundations of our training for SEC Championships and the Last Chance meet in February. With exams coming up, everyone is also trying to keep their grades up and stick to the high G.P.A. standards the teams before us have set.
While we are all looking forward to heading home again on December 18 for Christmas, there is plenty going on in Columbia to keep us busy. We actually just finished a collection to take up a few dollars from everyone to buy presents for the women and children at the Hannah House. And in the next few weeks, Coach Moody and Kristina Delp are looking to "adopt" a child as a team through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. It seems the spirit of the season has caught on to everyone! Go Cocks!
November 3, 2009
We spent this past week gearing up for Clemson, and everyone knew we would have to be at our bests to pull out a win against our biggest rival. Once we all got on the bus and hit the road you could feel the tension starting to build. We watched the movie "300" for some inspiration and all hit the pool for warm-ups with as much excitement and nervousness as we'll probably feel until the SEC Championships.
It was a close meet from the start. Clemson took the medley relays, but our distance swimmers came out and took the lead right back. I have never been so excited watching the 1000 or 500 as I was on Friday night. I think the whole team was up on their feet cheering the whole time and it was well worth it because their swims put us in the lead. The women's team, it seemed, spent the whole night one point ahead of Clemson, but we couldn't hang on in the 200 IM and 400 free relay and the Tigers won by 10. The guys had a similar dogfight going, trading races back and forth, but they couldn't hang on, either, and lost by 20. It was a long bus ride home.
Saturday morning started out with talk of how to beat Clemson next year, as we were only 364 days away from racing them again, but this time it will be on our home turf. We did have a great support system at the Clemson pool though! Almost every swimmer was there, whether swimming or just supporting and that made a huge difference, along with our ever-growing parent support group! Thanks to everyone!
After some Halloween festivities Saturday night, we all turned our attention to the upcoming meet against Tennessee in Knoxville this week. We leave Thursday because the rock slide on I-40 adds some extra time to our commute, but we'll swim Friday at 2:00. I am very excited to see and swim in this pool. It's brand new and supposedly very fast, so we should see some good swims this week! Go Cocks!
October 29, 2009
There may have not been a meet this past weekend, but it was still a busy one for the team. We had a large group of recruits come in Friday morning and we spent the weekend making sure they had a good time and were getting to know the team.
Friday night after practice a group of us headed out to a corn maze where we spent the next two hours winding our way through the field and occasionally getting scared by Aileen Atzhorn as she would hide in the corn and then jump out as you walked past. I did learn that I lack a sense of direction because I was in the group that made it out last, and it was mostly my fault. My teammates forgave me and we made it back in time to make s'mores and enjoy some of the other attractions on the farm as well.
The recruits all had to leave fairly early Sunday morning, but most of us were up anyway. A group of about twenty had all signed up to volunteer at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk in Columbia. While we weren't walking, we did help set up tents, tables, and chairs to help prepare for the walk. It seemed everyone had a great time not only giving back to the community, but just hanging out with each other. Coach Steve Steketee helped keep everyone in a good mood even though it was early, and there was plenty of laughter all morning. I also learned that I am not very good at setting up tents. It took Andy Atzhorn, Dom Lendjel, and myself almost twice as long to get our first tent up as everyone else, but we eventually did, and I like to think that I got better as I continued setting up more tents.
The rest of the weekend was relatively quiet as everyone was busy getting ready for the week ahead. Monday night, however, was not as quiet as a small group headed out to the annual "Monster's Ball" put on by the athletics department at Seawell's over by the stadium. It was fun to watch everyone dance and while some people on the team had some moves, there were some, like myself, that should probably just stay in the water.
Now the big thing that has been on everyone's mind for the past week and will continue to linger, is the meet against Clemson coming up on Friday. Last week Lydia Hackert and Lindsay Olson decorated the women's locker room with encouraging signs reminding everyone of how much this meet means to us. While it is the freshmen's first experience swimming Clemson, there is no doubt in my mind that they will be just as excited and ready to go as everyone else. The meet is at Clemson at 5 p.m. Friday! Go Cocks!
October 21, 2009
Last week we all packed up and headed to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for our first travel meet of the season. It was a tri-meet between the University of North Carolina and Virginia Tech. We all knew they would be some tough competition, and they were. While some of us did struggle to swim our best, that's expected at this point in the season. All of the groups have been working extremely hard, and each week we all see a jump in the intensity of the workouts. We were all excited to have some fans in the stands though! It was really exciting to see how many family members and friends traveled to watch us swim! Thanks for your support!
There were some great swims and we are all excited to be back in the pool getting ready for our dual meet against Clemson! It's in two weeks and it is probably the second most exciting meet of the season. Other than SECs, it seems no one gets as excited as they do for Clemson. This year will be my first year actually going to Clemson, and there is nothing more exciting than the thought of beating them on their own turf!
We are also in the middle of the semester, and we are all working really hard in school. Midterms are in full swing, and everyone is busy writing papers and studying for these halfway point tests while balancing training and some fun as well.
We'll head to Clemson next Friday, October 30, to take them on for a pre-Halloween showdown!
October 12, 2009
Sorry it's been so long since I wrote a new entry, but it's been crazy around here getting ready for the meet.
Last weekend, everyone got dressed up and went to the alumni dinner at Seawell's here in Columbia. There was good showing of alumni and all the upperclassmen were so excited to see their old teammates, while the freshmen got to match faces with the names of the people we all keep referring to. There was great food and conversation as everyone got caught up and enjoyed each other's company outside of the pool. It was great to see everyone dressed up; you'd be surprised how different people look in clothes with their hair dry!
I thought the awards presentation was one of the best times of the night -- between all of the academic awards and the leadership awards, I think it is a great chance for the new freshmen to get to see what our team is all about, besides just swimming fast.
Then came the long week of waiting. It seemed everyone was nervous and excited for Friday to finally come and the racing to begin. We were on fall break on Thursday and Friday so practice schedules were a bit different and it gave us all a chance to catch up on our rest for the meet. In the pre-meet meeting, Coach Moody talked to us about how over the past couple of years the team has always talked about being great one day, but he said the meet against Kentucky was our chance to actually be great. No more talking, it was time for action.
Then after a shout-out from a recent graduate, Kyle Cormier, we all walked out to 2001, standing there together getting ready to start the cheer. It still hadn't hit me yet that the season was now officially underway. It wasn't until I was up on the block for the 200 medley relay that I was like, "Oh man, here we go!"
There were some amazing swims. Some people posted best times, others just had great races. I thought some of the most impressive ones were the distance events where the twins, Claire and Christine Thompson took 1-2, and freshman Jordan Gibbs showed that she's a force to be reckoned with as well. The men's distance events were equally as impressive, especially the 500 free. Freshmen Mike Flach and Brooks Ross went head-to-head with Kentucky swimmers and came out on top! Another great race was the men's 200 breaststroke. Bobby Cave took an early lead and won easily, but it was sophomore Armin Hornikel who pulled it out in the last 10 yards against the Kentucky swimmer to take second.
Another impressive facet of the meet was the diving. We have an amazing group of divers this year, and I know we all enjoyed watching them do things we couldn't imagine. They all scored some big points for us on the board and are beyond an important part of the team. Four of them, Taryn Zack, Allison Barr, Courtney Forcucci and Rylan Ridenour all qualified for NCAA Zones!
All in all, it was a great meet and it really helped remind me what I like best about this sport! The men posted their first career SEC win with Coach Moody winning 160-140, while the girls went down in a dog fight 168-130.
The next meet is this Saturday, October 17, at Chapel Hill. We will take on UNC and Virginia Tech! Go Cocks!
September 30, 2009
Thursday night's football game was probably the best football game I have ever been to. It was amazing to see the whole stadium shake and see everyone on their feet as our Gamecocks took down No. 4-ranked Ole Miss. On top of that, all of the swimmers and divers got to go onto the field at halftime in front of more than 70,000 people. That is one experience I will never forget. Standing with my teammates under the lights looking up at all of the people is probably a feeling I will never experience in any other fashion. I think it was a great chance for the freshmen to see how much support there is for South Carolina athletes and how exciting the college level is. Now even though we will probably never swim in front of that many people, we were still recognized as athletes, and that in itself is something the majority of the population will never experience.
Also last week the team worked on giving back to the community. As a school we are participating in the SEC Canned Food drive and many of our team members have been a part of this effort. On Wednesday night we were all given the chance to volunteer and collect cans outside of the Gamecock Bi-Lo. That was a much more successful effort than Thursday night. Thursday before the game a few of us helped by collecting cans that fans brought to the game. We didn't collect many canned goods, but Lydia Hackert and I were standing beside the one barrel we had and we did collect quite a few beer cans! It was enjoyable to see the support that we received as some people brought cans, others offered monetary donations, and others wished they had remembered.
Another story that I would like to tell is a funny one, and I am going to try and include funny stories like this one from now on. Earlier this week on Tuesday I was walking from Russell House to the pool with Bobby Cave and Logan Griffith. Somehow we got on the topic of Chinese food and Logan said something about how she had never had Chinese food, but she had had Japanese food. Bobby quickly proclaimed that the two are not similar at all. In fact he said "the two are about as similar as a hot dog and a warm puppy." Now I think the line on its own is funny, but said in a British accent just added to it.
First meet next week versus Kentucky! Go Cocks!
September 24, 2009
U-S-C-GOOO COCKS!!! This weekend our freshmen got to experience what I would consider one of the integral parts of being a student here at South Carolina. Our gamecock football team finally had a home game and almost the whole swim team showed up to the game to watch them play. The freshmen got to see people setting up their tailgate spots over 24 hours in an advance and then got to experience a true SEC football game. We all started tailgating fairly early, heading out around three o'clock for a seven o'clock kickoff but the rain held off and I think everyone had a great time. The rain held off as we all enjoyed spending time together outside the pool munching on hotdogs and hamburgers and what was a new experience for me, Skyline Chili. One of our freshmen girls, Claire Shannon (a native of Cincinnati) brought a dish of Skyline chili dip for all of us to enjoy, and I think for most of our native southerners, it was a new and tasty find to add to our tailgating menu.
After heading into the game I think our upperclassmen were excited to break out some of our favorite Gamecock traditions, and the freshmen got to learn them. Things like the "magic box" that Cocky pops out of in the beginning and dancing to "Sandstorm" during timeouts are things I think we all will remember forever. The Gamecocks gave us a little scare with a tight score of 17-16 at halftime, but finished up nicely with a final score of 38-16. There is a home game Thursday night and this time we will all get a chance to take the field. At halftime all of the sports will be recognized and standing on the field in front of 80,000-plus fans is yet another moment in my time as a South Carolina athlete that I will never forget.
This is the last week of practicing as one big group, and I know everyone is anxious to break into groups and start working on their specifics. We also have a meet on Friday that, although it won't count as a meet, times will count and it will give the freshmen a chance to experience the 16-event format that we will use in our regular meets. Our first regular meet is also a conference meet and that will be October 9 against Kentucky at home.
September 16, 2009
Hey Gamecock fans! My name is Mallory and I am currently a sophomore on South Carolina's Swimming and Diving team. I am also a journalism major and I will be doing my best to keep you updated as to what is going on with the Swim and Dive teams!
We are officially a full week into the season and things are getting very exciting around the pool! Our new freshmen are settling into college life and they already seem like they've been a part of the team for years. We are still practicing in one large group and it's been exciting to see the whole team work together to make each practice a successful one. Earlier this week we had our first big test set as we call it. For those of you who are not familiar with the swimming lingo, a test set is a way for each swimmer to see what kind of shape they are in. Coach Moody referred to this particular one as more of a `gut-check' because the pool is still set to 50 meters. I would say all in all that everyone did a really good job and being only a few weeks into the season we should all be excited for meets to start in a few weeks!
We also had our first recruiting weekend this past weekend and it was exciting to meet some of the new kids that are being recruited. There was a girls' team cookout Friday night and it was not only a great chance to meet the recruits but it was also good to spend some time outside the pool with everyone. Since our team is so much larger this year, it has been difficult to get to know each other and it was nice to relax by the pool, instead of in it, and talk. On Saturday night the whole team got together to watch the South Carolina-Georgia football game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Even though it was one of the longest games I've ever seen, it was still a good time hanging out with all of our teammates and eating a ton of pizza and subs!
Our first meet is October 9 at Blatt! I will be posting blogs as often as I can to keep you guys updated! Go Cocks!