Splashes Along With Cheers

Halfway through the 2000-2001 season, Head Coach John Skudin’s squad coming off a sweep at Iona College and confidently heading into a home date against St. Francis that will be the last of the season.

The team is young and inexperienced but improving daily. “I think that the young guys are experiencing a little bit of difficulty in making the transition to a new environment. Overall though, I think they are doing really well.”

The swimming program has been mired in difficulty this season because of the removal of the diving boards at Alumni Hall, which hurts in intercollegiate competitions. “It is extremely tough to motivate a team that knows that even before competing, they found themselves down because of the diving points that we lose in every meet,” Skudin said.

Skudin spoke frankly about the obstacles that the team must overcome: “Pool time is very expensive and hard to find and it’s tough to recruit good talent when they know they have to move off-campus in order to train.”

When the conversation shifts to the goals for the team, Skudin is quick to respond: “The goal this year is for everyone to improve on their individual times.”

He added that in swimming “It is very difficult to make predictions as to how your season might turn out because this is such an individual sport. The flu could go around and hit your team and ruin your season and it’s something you can’t control.”

The biggest change this year, according to Skudin, is the tougher standards that the Big East has implemented to qualify for the conference finals, as well as the inclusion of Virginia Tech in the conference. “They have reduced the number of teams and athletes that they are going to take, so there is great competition among schools for those spots.” Speaking of Virginia Tech, Skudin said: “They were the top team in the Atlantic 10 last year, so it just adds to what already was a very competitive field.”

The fierce competition for spots in conference and national events can be gauged by the training regime that the Red Storm squad is subjected to on a weekly basis, according to Skudin: “It is amazing what these guys do just to stay in top shape. We swim nine times a week and do running and conditioning three times a week.”

Sometimes, this arduous routine does translate into the ultimate goal. Skudin explained that in swimming, “Even after you train and go through the process, it does not guarantee you a victory. A guy can put hours in practice and there is still the chance that he will be beaten by another swimmer, and that is the toughest part of the sport.”

Despite the obstacles faced by Skudin and the swimmers, the team has persevered and is trying to start off on the right foot.