Returning to in-person meets: a mid-season look into St. Olaf swimming and diving

In early Sept. 2021, the St. Olaf swim and dive team began their preseason training. Organized by the senior class, who are collectively the captains of the team, the team met for practices to get back into form after summer break. When asked about the importance of preseason, Leah Granstrom ’23, who is in her first year on the team, said, “It was a really good way to get to know people and get to know what the vibe of practices would be like before fully getting into the actual season and the competitive, aggressive training.” The team’s season began in early October, and since then, the team has been building up steam for a season that continues all through January and into the spring semester. 

Heading into their big mid-season meet this weekend, Shannon Cucchiaro ’22 said, “The first two months are really intense training, so I think people are a little tired, but in a good way. We want to tear ourselves down so that when it’s time for a big meet we’re ready to build ourselves up again.” Danny Barry ’22 shared this sentiment, likening the past two months to a training montage you would see in a movie. It’s clear that this work paid off at the meet, as several Oles had stellar performances. Sophia Nevin ’22 set a new school record in the 100 yard breaststroke, with a time of 1:04.36. Tim Rizzo ’23 also came in first overall in the 1650 yard freestyle, with a time of 16:00.13. In diving, Oscar Hanifl ’24 came in fifth in both the men’s three meter and one meter dives, with scores of 360.1 and 387.1, respectively.

Looking ahead, the team is very excited for their training trip to Florida during the second half of winter break. “Training trip is a really fun bonding experience. It’s some of the hardest training that we do all year,” said Cucchiaro. The team is also grateful to have some time to dedicate solely to their sport, without the distraction of academics or other commitments getting in the way. 

This extra training is especially important in preparation for January, the busiest month of the season, as meets are more frequent and some swimmers and divers hope to qualify for nationals. Overall, the team’s biggest goal this season is “fostering a good dynamic this year and getting back to the way things were before COVID, because last year we couldn’t really hang out as a team,” said Cucchiaro. However, if they haven’t already, it seems like they’re well on their way to achieving this. Granstrom spoke about how the team’s enthusiasm and good sportsmanship helps foster such a positive environment for all of the athletes.

Cucchiaro, Barry, and Granstrom also want Oles to know that if they have any interest in swimming or diving, they should consider joining the team. College athletics can be intimidating, but Barry assures people, “even if you’re not the most competitive person or you don’t think you’re fast enough, trust me, you are. The team is super friendly and approachable and there’s really a high dedication to all members of the team regardless of skill level or speed.”

Finally, mark your calendars for Jan. 29, 2022 and go see our Ole swimmers and divers in action at their next home meet!


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