January 17, 2007

One thing that has been a hallmark of our program at Carthage is to build a successful collegiate swimming program. Not necessarily a successfull Division III program and not necessarily one that's defined soley in by its times. We wanted to build a program that gives guys the tools to reach their potential and be unafraid of competiting against the best possible competition be that Division I, II, or III.

That brings us to his yesterday's meet against Northwestern University. Yes, THAT Northwestern University, ranked #8 in the country, Grevers, Alexandrov, and all that. Well the eight biggest boys were down posting the fastest times in the nation, but we were honored to have the rest of the team visit us for a meet. And what a meet it was - if only because of what we learned. It was interesting to see how some guys reacted to the challenge of going up against a legitimate D-I team. Some were up to the challenge while others, lacking confidence, really struggled. It was also good from a coaching standpoint to go up against such a good team because it helped highlight some of our weaknesses, namely walls. When you're going up a merely good program, or one equal your own team, it's tough to see some difference, but when you're watching your opponent get an additional three feet on you on every turn, you go, "Ah hah!"

Taken together, it was a very good meet for us. Sure we took a loss, but many times you can learn more from a loss than an easy win.

This weekend should be even more revealing as Wheaton and Chicago come to town. They are ranked 20th and 22nd respectively (we're 21st). More than that, however, it's Wheaton, our conference rival, the opponent we respect and appreciate the most, so pride is on the line.

Training is one part of the equation that leads to fast swimming. Pride, however, that sense of swimming with a purpose, is the intangible factor. Pride can take even an untrained swimmer and make him competitive, but it can also be the trigger that leads to unexpectedly successful swims. Last weekend revealed that our training is on target for an outstanding season, though we lacked that confidence to break through to another level. This past weekend, with Wheaton in the house, there's no question, to paraphrase Lombardi, that Pride Matters.



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