Early tests provide cautious hope for swimming

Photo by Brenda Lin

If there is one thing to be taken away from Tech swimming and diving this season it is this: records are meant to be broken. Having competed in Greensboro, N.C., last weekend, the Jackets broke 12 school marks.

After being defeated by Duke, Indiana and Michigan, the Jackets went at the ACC Women’s Championship in North Carolina looking for redemption. Though the meet took Tech swimming to a new level, the Jackets closed the meet at a slightly disappointing 11th place.

Last weekend, the Jackets put on a master class in consistency. Each of the four days of the championship new school records were broken. Tech’s women’s swimmers recorded best times in three events on the first, third and fourth days of the meet and two records on the second day.

Brad Homza set a school record in the platform finals on Tech’s last day in Greensboro. Homza’s 436.25 swept the men’s platform dive.  He was named the ACC’s Most Valuable Diver, a prestigious honor for the junior.

Homza is not the only Jacket who has illustrated a capacity to consistently perform at the top of the roster. Freshman Iris Wang, Tech’s resident Olympian, contributed to three of the eleven records broken during the championship weekend. Wang consistently improved in her 100 free performance, breaking the school record three times over the span of the weekend.

Consistently skimming time from her 50 freestyle, Wang set a personal best of 22.90 on the fourth day of the championship. An international student, a remarkable sprinter and an irreplaceable relay member, Wang represents the caliber of Tech swimming and diving.

Over the course of the women’s championship weekend and the season, the Jackets did not merely succeed in individual events but also illustrated a phenomenal team dynamic. Close to half of the record breaking efforts throughout the weekend ­— five of eleven — were relay events.

These contests require more than just fast swimmers. Each relay swimmer is not only responsible for swimming their leg of the relay with significant speed but also for making up time that might have been lost during a teammate’s leg of the race.

Team members work together and must gauge the progression of the relay. Not only must they have faith in their own ability to post a satisfactory time, they must know the abilities of the other relay swimmers to swim swiftly. The historic success in relay racing times posted this weekend by the Jackets depicts a commendable team dynamic and impressive cohesiveness on Tech’s roster.    

As the Jackets prepare not only to finish the Men’s ACC Championship strong this weekend but also for Zone Qualifiers and the NCAA Championships, continuing to perform with consistency will be more valuable to Tech’s standing than ever, particularly as the level of competition increases.

Last weekend’s women’s championships revealed that Tech’s female swimmers seem more comfortable performing in shorter events. Eight out of eleven of the school records broken by women’s swimmers throughout the championship weekend were 200-yard or fewer events.  The 800-free relay was the only event over 400 yards in which Tech broke a record, leaving room for improvement.

There is not much necessity for every team member to specialize in long distance events; however, there is nothing lost in training to improve endurance levels in the water.  A team of consistently fast swimmers with high stamina would be a formidable one.

Tech did not come close to winning the ACC Women’s Championship, but it set a new bar for the team. It is a measure for which the team will no doubt aim.