Before I get into the last two days happenings, I would like to thank you all of you for your support. I’m really enjoying sharing how things are going here, so thanks for taking the time to read the stories of a “White African”, the response has been incredible! Unfortunately I am going to have to go ahead and give a negative review for the first time on my blog… That didn’t take long, haha haha. The reason I didn’t get a chance to write about yesterdays swims was because the Applebees restaurant that is connected to the hotel that we are staying at took an hour and a half to get our food out last night! It was a little bit on the ridiculous side. So we only got back to the rooms at 10pm and bed was definitely top of the priority list!

As a team the races that we have swum so far here in Minnesota have told the story of a pretty solid year of hard training. I am pretty sure that no one on the Whitworth Swim Team would disagree with me when I say that we put in some solid work through our regular season, and the month between Conference Champs and Nationals was no different. In the last two days we have finished races really well, we have had pretty good out speed too. The only place we have struggled a little bit is through the middle of the races. I don’t think it’s been a conditioning thing but a mental thing. Being at Nationals plays games with your head, at least it does mine… You think about race strategy so much more than you otherwise would, when you are discussing 50’s splits before the race, you aren’t talking about full seconds but fractions of seconds! You know your start needs to be quick and explosive, you know your turns need to be crisp, your finish timed to perfection! I find it a little overwhelming and stressful!

Mike “Woody” Woodward swam the 200 Free yesterday morning. I wouldn’t say it was the greatest 200 Free he has ever swum but he looked very solid all the way through. I think his stroke rate was a little bit slow in the first 100 and he couldn’t quite break that rhythm on the back end so he wasn’t as fast as I think he could have been. Hopefully he can pick up that rhythm when he swims the 100 free tomorrow. If he does I think he has a shot at breaking his own school record in the race. He is seeded on a 46.18 – his school record is 45.76.

Typical “Woody” Pre-Race

Christine “DA HAAAVVVAAN” DeHaven also swam the 200 Free yesterday morning. She swam the first 50 very nicely, going slightly faster than she went at Conference a month ago but then was a little slower through the middle of her race before bringing it home nice and strong in the last 50… She finished in a 1.56.05, only slightly slower than the best time (I think), 1.55.88  that she swam at Conference last month.

DAA HAAAVVEN Finishing Her 200 Free

The buff “Pussycat” Darling took the 400 IM like a man and dominated it in both his prelim and finals swim yesterday. As far as I know he has never broken the 4 minute mark and that has been something he has been working towards this season. He swam the race slightly differently in the morning and evening. The change in tactic allowed him to swim faster, but I don’t think it changed how much it hurt! That is one killer event that I am very happy I don’t have to swim. He swam a 3.59.47 in the morning with a slightly faster Fly split but slower Breastroke and Free splits. His Fly in the evening was about a second slower but that allowed him to work the Breastroke and Free a little harder to come home in a 3.59.04. He finished 7th overall giving him his first All-American performance! Whitworth has a pretty good history in the 400 IM at nationals, Spokane Waves coach, Kevin Wang was national champion in the event in 2002 and 2003 and held the national record for a year too. So it is good to have someone capable of continuing the history of scoring in the event.

Just Breathe Son
On The Podium!

Ashley Lecoq set the time standard that I needed to beat in my 100 Breastroke when she swam her 100 Fly yesterday. Her 100 Fly time and my 100 Breast times have been quite close this season so when we trained together before nationals we raced each other a few times and have had a friendly bet going on who can be faster. She set up a pretty steep challenge when she went 56.52 in the prelims yesterday morning. I think the most impressive part is how strongly she finished the race. It was like she clicked into another gear – fantastic to watch! She went out slightly slower in the first 50 of the finals last night and couldn’t quite bring it home as well as the morning but managed a very solid 13th place finish! Ash also swam in the 200 Fly prelims this morning. She has been a little unfortunate in the way her events are scheduled this week, she gets the last day of the meet off, where every one else gets a individual race rest day somewhere in between the first and last day. She swam the 200 well this morning, going almost exactly the same time as she went in the prelims at Conference. She was two seconds faster in the finals at Conference and I think if she had the chance to swim it again she would be at least two seconds faster tonight.

Ashley Reppin’ The “W”

The wonderful Natalie “Dirtbag” Turner swam the 200 Free yesterday and took herself one step closer to having a perfect record of All American performances at Nationals. Her morning swim was incredible (not that her finals swim wasn’t!) She broke her own school and NWC record going a a 1.50.37 and looked very good all the way through. In the final last night she was out a tiny bit slower in the first 100 than she was in the morning but bought it back faster. Her finals time was 1.50.51 (which was still faster than her previous school and NWC record of 1.50.58). I know that she really really wanted to break the 1.50.00 mark and was a little bit disappointed that she didn’t but as I said in my last post I am so so impressed every time I watch this girl swim. She has left a very impressive list of records on our school and NWC board, records that I have a feeling will be there for some time to come.

The “Dirtbag” Pre Race!

Jennifer “Slow Arms” Benson swam in the 100 Backstroke prelims this morning. I felt like she swam very well for her first individual swim at Nationals. I know that when I swam my 50 Free and even the 100 Breastroke here last year I was so nervous I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I think that she will learn a lot from her week here and next year she’ll come back faster, stronger (cough, Cytogainer, cough 😛 ) and mentally more prepared than she was this year. She swam a 59.72 this morning, only 0.60 of a second slower than her life time best which she went at Conference.

Jen Doing Her Thing Underwater

After my day off yesterday I got my chance to have some fun in the 100 Breastroke this morning. I have not been feeling very well since Tuesday, so I had mixed feelings about how well I would swim this morning. Getting sick this week has kind of summed up how the season has gone this year as far as the setbacks are concerned but I have managed to hold my own despite those set backs so I was hoping that I could continue on in that fashion… And I did! Steve and I played with my tempo a little bit during warm up this morning before deciding on how we were going to swim the race. I am glad that we did that because I then had it freshly set in my mind and my body was ready for what I needed to do. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the 1oo Breast – I love the race, and have swam it well unshaved and untapered in the past but have not been able to put together a solid shave and taper swim probably since South African Short Course Nationals in 2006 which has been very frustrating! I put an end to that this morning though! I went out in a 26.00 which I was very happy about and then came home in a 29.73 giving me a 55.73, much much better than the 57.41 I swam in the prelims here last year!

I went out tonight just looking to have some fun. My morning time converted to Short Course Meters which is something I am a little more familiar with was a 1.02.10 so I really wanted to go a time that would convert to faster than a 1.02.00. That was my only real goal, other than that… Have fun! During the afternoon Kalen the “Pussycat” said to me the motto has got to be “Just Get Dirty” Haha couldn’t think of anything more amusing myself. I went out tonight in a 25.8 and came back in 29.3 to give me a final time of 55.25 which converts to a 1.01.66! I am really excited about that swim, it was also a new Whitworth as well as a NWC Record. I am looking forward to the 200 tomorrow.

The Double Gun Shake Up – Now Pre Race Ritual

Our girls finished off tonight with the 800 Free relay! It was an incredible race! The girls came into the meet seeded 6th on a 7.36.4 but two teams in an earlier heat went faster than them so they needed to step their game up a little to make sure they stayed in the top 8… And they did! They stepped it up in a big way! Ash led them off in a 1.52.69 which was a solid life time best time for her! Jen then took over and swam a 1.54.63. Her out speed in the 100 was incredible, she looked so long and smooth, turning in a 54.5! Jen handed it over to Christine who rode her legs in a big way! I have never seen so much white water coming up behind the girl! It was incredible! Christine split a 1.55.45 who then turned it over to one of the best relay anchors in my mind, of all time. Nat’s fight with 200 Freestyle over breaking that 1.50.00 came to an end today when she split a 1.49.77 to bring the girls home in a 7.32.54. Nat’s swim was incredible, she looked so good all the way through and had she had another 10 yards she would have caught one if not two other teams! Our girls placed 8th and broke the Whitworth and NWC record by over six seconds.

This sums up the teams spirit Perfectly!

With the girls relay and my swim tonight together with Mike’s 200 IM and Kalen’s 400 IM each one of us on the team are now All-Americans which is fantastic. Our girls are placed 17th and us men 19th overall going into the last day. Every one is in very high spirits and having a lot of fun so hopefully we can maintain our top 20 (out of 25o, I think, D3 schools in the country!) position! We have a nice fan base here of parents, Carla <3 and Brad, which is a really nice addition to all the support we are getting from all of you, so once again, Thank You!