August 24, 2006

With freshmen set to arrive in just over a week you can feel the energy starting to build around campus. That said, we've put the finishing touches on this year's competition schedule.

Our schedule reflects a number of goals. First, we want to be challenged. Many assume that as a Division III program that's who we limit ourselves to. Instead we want to find the best possible competition we can find whether they're Division I, II, or III, whether they have scholarships or not. Ultimately, we get better as we challenge bigger and better teams.

Second, we try to find competition that doesn't force us to travel all across the country. Anytime we travel more than about four hours to a meet, we miss class time. Fortunately, the Koenitzer Aquatic Center has established a reputation as a fast pool so we've been able to attract teams from West Virginia to South Dakota for home meets. That said, here's a glimpse of the 2006-07 schedule.

Sept 16 - Captain's Biathalon - This is an annual event that features a 1/2 mile dip in Lake Michigan+3 mile run back to campus+1 mile swim NASCAR-style in the pool and four final laps around the outdoor track. Winning it has turned into a point of pride for the guys and this year they'll be joined by our women's team as well as members of the Carthage Master's program.

Oct 28 - Wabash College - This is a relatively new rivalry with an up-and-coming program just like ours. Last year we edged them, but this year they boast a huge new freshman class, so it should be a great meet.

Nov 4 - @Hope College - Hope is a perennial top-15 program that we added to the schedule a few years ago in hopes of rising to their level. The last time we traveled there the lead changed hands six times over 13 events and you can always expect both teams to swim a little faster the first weekend in November.

Nov 10 - Lake Forest College - With LFC just 25 minutes south of here this is a natural meet for us. Last year they were down a bit so we held a few guys back, but this year they've got a new coach so I'm sure they'll step up.

Nov 17-18 - @Wabash Invitational - This is always a good chance to see some good new teams. In addition to the hosts, Olivet, DePauw, Division II Indianapolis, and our conference-rival Wheaton will all be there. This will be our last tune-up before the TYR/ Meet.

Dec 1-2 - TYR/ Classic - We'll cap the fall semester with what has developed into one of the top small-college meets in the country. This year the field will include two top-10 Division III schools; three top-25 Division II programs, the 4th best NAIA team and an up-and-coming Division I team. We'll rest a little bit and hope to get some NCAA cuts. here.

Dec 16-24 - Training Trip - After going to San Luis Potosi, Mexico last year, we're headed to the University of Houston. UH will be the host of the NCAA Championships so this trip will give us an opportunity to get used to the pool in preparation for NCAA's.

Jan 6 - Lawrence & North Central - This is usually a day to honor the seniors. Since we'll be in the middle of some of our heaviest training, we're not exactly at our sharpest here.

Jan 13 - Northwestern - This weekend is both an honor and a challenge. Northwestern finished 10th in Division I last year, and though they'll have a handful of guys headed to the Dallas Morning News Invite, you can be be sure they don't want to to go down to a Division III team. This is the second time we've faced a top-ten Division I program, the other being the Gophers at last year's Minnesota Invitational.

Jan 20 - Wheaton & Chicago - Wheaton has long ruled the CCIW and this meet has always offered a sneak-peek at our conference meet. We've gone 2-2 in the past four years, with last year's loss the only blemish on our schedule. This will be the final home meet for our seniors who enter this year having never lost a dual meet at home. I'm guessing some Wheaton gained some more motivation for this showdown.

Jan 27 - Wisconsin Private College Championships - When I first arrived at Carthage, I asked the guys what the highlight of their season was and they were unaminous - it was their recapturing of the Wisconsin Private College Meet. Oh man, I thought, we have some work ahead of us. Five years later this has evolved into our final tune-up before the conference meet and helps us determine who makes our conference team and who swims what events at CCIW's.

Feb 9-11 - @CCIW Championships - This is the penultimate meet of the year for us, and the biggest meet of the season for those note qualified for NCAA's. For the first time ever, we go in with the target on our back. Last year we snapped Wheaton's 10-year championship run, but this year we're at their pool so they should have a slight advantage. Key to the meet will be how many of each team's swimmers have qualified for NCAA's. Those guys will likely not be tapered so they'll need to find a way to step up. At the same time, the teams are so evenly matched that every single guy and every single swim will count.

Mar 15-17 - @NCAA Championships - We'll be headed back to the University of Houston for the national championships and we'll be the only Division III program with experience of having actually swum in the pool. This year the aim is to crack the top-twenty for the first time and have individuals challenge for titles.

If all goes as planned our season, one that includes three top-twenty Division II, three top-fifteen Division III, and a trio of scholarshiped Division I and NAIA schools will have given us the experience to race at that level.



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