Most people equate a winter trip to Florida with a leisurely stroll on the beach, but with some hard work, the Women's Swimming team shied away from the sharks in the sea and became the sharks of the pool.
The team has performed well above par this season, finishing 4-6 in dual meets, with two of the wins coming over Winter Term. This record, their best performance since 1989, is launching the team into the Conference Championship tournament next week with high hopes.
"This has been a very long, hard season, and only the toughest ones are left," Head Coach Dick Michaels said. Among those is junior Clara Stemwedel who broke her own varsity record against Edinboro State University on January 28. The women won that meet decisively 137-87.
Stemwedel broke her own 1000-meter record of 11 minutes flat in the Mount Union College meet in mid-January with a time of 10:56.85.
"She's been doing some remarkable things all Winter Term," Michaels said. "She's the only person of the women's team who has the possibility of making National cuts.
Stemwedel and Michaels attributed the exceptional performances to hard work done over the season and especially over Winter Term. The team trained four hours a day in Florida at the beginning of January, and the experience proved to be valuable.
Stemwedel dominated her events in the five meets over Winter Term.
"I've been faster this whole season. I came in thinking I'd work hard. I went to a lot of morning practices. I think it's the change in my attitude that helped," Stemwedel said.
She stressed that the entire team has done a good job this season.
"Florida is sort of a bonding experience. We spend a lot of time together. Winter Term is really fun. It gives us a chance to really come together as a team," Stemwedel said.
Over Winter Term back at Oberlin, the Yeowomen continued to work hard and powered through Case Western Reserve University, Mount Union, Edinboro State, John Carroll University, and Kenyon College. In each meet, team members produced personal bests in every stroke.
The meet with Case Western brought a shrunken Winter Term team into the ranks with a Case Western win of 124-89. Despite the loss, senior Beth Lowe swam a lifetime best in the 100-yard freestyle and senior Amy Neumeister had a lifetime best in the 200-yard freestyle.
Four days later, first-year Tiffany Hancock complimented Stemwedel's exceptional performance with a lifetime best in the 500-yard freestyle against Mount Union. Then after just three days, junior Julie Chor took a season best against Edinboro in the fly. Chor topped her own performance with two lifetime bests in the 200 IM and the 200 fly. First-year Erin Livensparger swam a lifetime best in the 200 backstroke.
On January 23, the Yeowomen toppled to John Carroll 139-89, and a day later, lost to Kenyon 138-98. In the Kenyon meet, sophomore Shana Ageloff swam her lifetime-best in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:44.81.
The wins and competitiveness of the team are priming the Yeowomen for the NCAC Conference Championships next week. The team is tapering their practices now in preparation of next week's meet.
Michaels partly blames a steep taper in practice for the poor performance in last year's Conference Meet.. This year he is tapering practice more gradually. The women seem to be happy with the new technique.
"Now we're starting to taper," junior Sara Titus said. "Everyone has all this extra energy after practice. It's great!"
Chor was also excited for Conferences. "We're psyched for it, or at least I am."
"I think we're going to have a good taper. This is the hardest the team has worked and we're going to see major results," Livensparger said.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 13, February 6, 1998
Contact us with your comments and suggestions.