Joshua Mabry, Campus Carrier sports editor
The men’s and women’s swim and dive teams have been working hard to prepare for the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) conference championships that begin on Feb. 12 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Head Coach Paul Flinchbaugh, who is very confident in his teams going into the conference championships, said that the team went to Birmingham a few weeks ago to prepare for the championships and do a dry run for conference.
“We stayed in the same hotel,” Flinchbaugh said. “We traveled back and forth to the same pool and did a morning swim. Everybody swam very well there. Everything went very smoothly, very easy, so it’s just a perfect setup for us.”
To get ready for the SAA championships, Flinchbaugh said that the swim and dive teams had exceptional seasons.
At the beginning of the season, the teams came together cohesively, which helped them have strong races, according to Flinchbaugh.
After the start of the season, the teams went down to winter training camp in southern Florida.
Flinchbaugh said that this trip was very successful for the teams.
“We had a great training trip down there, very successful,” Flinchbaugh said. “Everything was just positive down there. Since we’ve been back, everybody’s just been feeling better and better and better going through the taper.”
Something that stands out about this year’s swim and dive team is how high the men’s team is ranks on psych sheets despite the fact that the men’s team is small, according to Flinchbaugh.
“When it comes down to conference and we start placing them in the right spots, then they’re going to start swimming extremely well and score a ton of points,” Flinchbaugh said.
Junior Dylan White said that he is ready to race in the SAA championships and does not know if he can contain his excitement for another week.
White said that the men’s and women’s teams have worked very hard to get to where they are in the season.
“I think everybody came in feeling hot at the beginning of the season and then training kicked in and everyone was swimming sore and tired, but everyone was still able to maintain that speed,” White said. “Now, we’re backing off on the yards, getting a little more rest. I think everyone’s getting excited and feeling faster and stronger in the water.”
White said that the freshmen this year have been especially notable on the team.
The freshmen have discovered the roles that they want to play on the team, which will help the team score more points, according to White.
Graduate Assistant Coach Sierra Rhodes echoed Flinchbaugh and said that the teams have performed very well this season.
“I think it has been interesting to see how working hard and working together has kind of brought them together as a group,” Rhodes said. “I think as the season has progressed, they have come together as one more and more and look towards their team goals and not just their individual goals.”
Rhodes, who is in her first year of coaching, said that the mix of underclassmen with good leadership at the top is something that has helped the teams work so well together as a group. She said that it is motivating for her to see the team working together.
She is excited to see how the teams perform at the championships.
“It’s going to be interesting to watch it,” Rhodes said.