Water sports prepare for spring competition

Swim, Crew Teams ramp up training in anticipation of upcoming meets, regattas, athletes add thoughts

For many of Lewis & Clark’s athletes, the beginning of a new semester means the return to competition season. After taking winter break off, the Crew and Swim teams are already back in the swing of training in preparation to start off the semester on the right foot.

The competition season for the LC Men’s and Women’s swim teams straddles winter break, beginning in the Fall semester and continuing after returning from the holidays.

“The spring is when our season comes to a close,” said Elise Barton ’26, captain of the Women’s Swim Team. “So the first few weeks of the semester are more focused on resting well and preparing to swim fast at our final meet.”

With the first half of their season over, LC swimmers come into the Spring with a renewed focus on their sport and targeting specific areas for growth from the previous semester. Having such a limited time left in the pool encourages focusing on individual events.

“The second part of the season feels a lot more end goal-oriented, as we really start to focus in on the three individual events we’ll be swimming next weekend,” said Micah Rysavy ’25. “Every day in the pool counts, and we were definitely hit pretty hard by the week off due to snow.”

The LC Swim Team is not the only team with competition on the brain. The LC Crew Team has their season, which extends throughout the academic year with a Fall pre-season ramping up with events starting in early March. Pre-competition, their training has started to pick up in earnest.

“I honestly think our practice schedule is (mostly) the same as fall off season,” said Anna Dreher ’26. “We now have more consistent Saturday practices, and the vibe of the team and the training schedule is much more focused and intense.”

There may be events in the Fall, but as a Spring sport, rowing sees much of their competitive focus pulled to the end of the school year, focusing their off-season motivation on official events.

While athletes have no competitions to motivate them in the off season, they can hardly be called idle. Consistency and preparation are important to maintaining and improving performance, which coaches prioritize for their teams.

“During the off season, Caitlin (the swim team coach) works hard to give us plenty of alternative training opportunities,” said Rysavy. “We’ll have swimmers stopping by the lap swim hours at the pool, but most of the off-season training happens at the triathlon and water polo clubs.”

Athletes often have organized practices when not in the midst of competition, and are encouraged to work on their own. Building on skills means that letting momentum die out can be harmful to athletic growth.

That is not to say, however, that athletes never get time off. 

“We also prioritize rest during this time,” said Barton. “And many of us find that a break from swimming can be beneficial to grow our passion for it.”

Taking care of themselves and finding time for other activities keeps engagement with one’s sport strong. And as for athletes who want to keep moving without doing the same workouts over and over, there is always something new to try.

“During the off season, we stay active by participating in either (the) triathlon club or water polo club or both!” said Barton. “This keeps us in the water and playing the sport that we love at least a couple times a week.”

Finding new and novel ways to exercise one’s skills broadens an athlete’s toolkit, and sometimes sparks new passions when an individual tries something new. This can happen even when it might not have been wholly their idea. 

With respect to these alternative training methods, some teams have unfortunately been forced to take such measures. The crew team, for example, has been doing dry land training after an incident with their dock on the Willamette river due to heavy currents after the ice melt. 

“Part of the dock broke off and floated downstream, and the other part flipped over but stayed attached to the walk out ramp,” said Dreher. “Basically this just sucks and means we have to wait longer to train on the water.”

While construction of a new 138 foot dock is underway, crew team members are keeping active on dry land and gearing up for competition. Off-season alternatives have proven invaluable to keep team members moving.

Indeed, LC athletes have been taking advantage of time in the off season to get ready for competition in the Spring.

“I feel that we have been working really hard this season to compete well, so I’m excited to see everyone close off the season with a bang next weekend!” said Barton. “I hope we can all come together as a team and do our best to support each other.”

Hopes are high among the LC athletic community coming into second semester competitions, and hard work is set to pay off in Spring 2024.

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