September 9, 2007

Well, the whole team is on campus and season is about to start. For the first few weeks we have a little Carthage Swimming 101. That means lots of meetings. lots of getting-to-know-you's and judging from this weekends campout - lots of mosquito bites. Look for a report shortly about the Captain's Campout.

In the meantime, we've finalized our schedule - its potentially one of the toughest dual meet schedules in the country - one that should prepare us well for the NCAA and CCIW Championships. Here's the rundown:

October 27 - @Wabash College - What a way to start the season - against one of the fastest-rising teams in the country. Their coach Pete Casares picked up one of the top recruiting classes in the country, then bolted to Bates College. This isn't like a big time football program where you can line up some patsies to start the season (with apologies to Michigan fans). Wabash is a legit top-20 team and a formidable opponent for us.

November 3 - Lewis University & Illinois Tech - The schedule doesn't get any easier with a pair of scholarshiped teams here for our home opener. Lewis is a Division II program with a huge freshman class while Illinois Tech is a perennial top-five finisher at the NAIA National Championships.

November 9 - Lake Forest College - This is our annual Friday night matchup against the Forresters. A couple of years ago we sent a handful of guys down. They not only had to deal with the swim team, but the LFC hockey team was on hand to heckle and harrass and make for a great atmosphere. This meet will give some different guys a chance to shine.

November 16-17 - @Kalamazoo with Hope - Hoo baby, this is going to be a meet the 17th, 19th, and 21st place teams from last year's NCAA championships. It will be a two-day double-dual meet with a pair of the MIAA's top teams. Each of the last 3-4 years our Hope meet has gone down to the wire with the home team winning.

November 30-December 1 - TYR/ Classic- Our mid-season meet has turned into one of the best small college invitationals in the country. In fact there's a waiting list of six teams to get in for future years. Here we plan to give our guys a little rest, let them shave and wear the body suits to see if we can get our NCAA cuts taken care of. St. Olaf, Gustavus are top-ten finishers while St. Cloud, Wabash, Lewis, IIT, and Lake Forest make for a meet that's even more challenging to qualify for than our own conference championships.

December 14-24 - Training Trip- This year's training trip takes us back to Venice, Florida. We haven't been to Venice in about 3-4 years so it will be a nice return. It will also be a bit of a reuion as we'll be joined by Coe College and our former assistant Justin Jennings.

January 12 - Northwestern University and Olivet College- Following training trip we'll take on a pair of teams. Division I Northwestern will send a group up here to give our guys a challenge. As if that isn't enough, we'll also have the defending MIAA Champions - Olivet College here. Interestingly, by this point we'll have faced three MIAA schools and zero CCIW Schools.

January 19 - @Kenyon College and @Grinnell Invitational (Jan 18-19)- We'll be splitting up this weekend. One group will take off Thursday for the highly-competitive Grinnell Invitational. The other group will leave Friday to take on 28-time NCAA Champion Kenyon College. Did we say this was a tough schedule?

January 26 - @Chicago and Wheaton- We'll finally get our first glimpse of our top conference opponent. Wheaton was a little down on the national level last year, but captured the CCIW Crown. Chicago is a perennial NCAA qualifier. Ironically, the loser of the Wheaton-Carthage dual meet has gone onto win the CCIW title each of the past four years.

February 2 - Wisconsin Private College Championsihps - Don't let the fancy name fool you, this meet merely serves as our final tune-up before the conference meet. It helps us determine who makes our conference team, who swims what events at CCIW's and gives guys a chance to swim an off event. We also try to make sure that every senior leaves having won an event here. A couple of years ago, that meant that our 200 free relay was split - 21.8, 21.2, 20.8 - and - 25.6! But hey, he was still a champion!

February 14-16 - CCIW Championsihps - This is the penultimate meet of the year for us, and the biggest meet of the season for those note qualified for NCAA's. After winning the meet at home in 2006, we'll be looking to regain the title this season. This meet will largely be dictated by a) the addition of Rose Hulman which will significantly strengthen the conference; b) who is rested and who is training through to NCAA's - for us that means that some of our big dogs won't be tapered; and finally c) which team is hungrier for the title. Last year, to be honest, Wheaton was pretty motivated to get the title back. We'll hope to be just as hungry this season.

March 20-22 - NCAA Championsihps - This is what its all about - playing on the national stage. Last year in this space I wrote that we were aiming for our first-ever top-twenty finish. This year? Top Ten? We'll know in a few months.



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