The University of Richmond Swimming and Diving Team is optimistic while preparing for the conference championship on Feb. 15 in Geneva, Ohio, following a loss in a dual meet against Rutgers last week.
Richmond has won the Atlantic 10 championship for the last six years straight, and has won the championship 14 of the last 15 years overall.
“The only emphasis is on the championship meet,” coach Matthew Barany said. "The team is getting ready as it always has for the A-10 competition."
A big factor, he said, is how the team came together during a training trip to Florida at at the end of December.
Nicole Piercy, a distance swimmer and last year’s Rookie of the Year, described the Florida practices as among the best of her entire life because of the way the team performed, especially when everyone was exhausted.
“It was a high point mentally, emotionally and physically,” Piercy said. "We were all happy, and it was really unique to focus on swimming and diving and to be a team.”
At the championships last year, Piercy said she thought about what she was doing for her team and was focusing on having fun.
Hannah Matheson, a senior captain and butterflyer, said the loss at Rutgers was her last dual meet. She is confident in the team despite the outcome, and the team remains unfazed and positive in its ability, she said. This season has been especially important to Matheson because she has gotten the opportunity to be part of a senior class that leads the team.
Piercy said that unlike a number of sports, there is a strong mental aspect to the preparation for the competition.
The swimmers don’t mind and are used to the amount of recognition they receive. Whenever the swim team is recognized, it is special to the team, Matheson said.
Piercy has heard swimmers described as “very fit” but not athletic by other athletes at the school. At first she was offended by the statement, she said, but then she realized that swimming is a different kind of sport. Even though swimmers might be a different kind of athlete, “aerobically and mentally, I think we’re some of the toughest athletes,” Piercy said.
When Piercy is on the block about to go into the water, she describes having “a million thoughts, but at the same time no thoughts.” She described it as surreal.
Barany said that he had more behavioral expectations than emotional expectations.
"We haven’t had the smoothest ride this season," Barany said. “We’ve modified our training to accommodate the various injuries and illness. We’re all on track now, though. I think we are the team to beat.”
Although the swim team is not similar to basketball or football in its popularity, it doesn’t mean that the team is any less motivated to win, Barany said.
Barany is confident about the team’s speed and potential, and positive about the potential for the team’s success, he said.
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