November 3, 2007

There's something great about a close dual meet. No three-day, six-session war. No endless heats of 1650 swim fastest to slowest in alternating heats of men and women. Nope. Instead, in a good dual meet you get immediate feedback. You swim your race and see how the points fall. You calculate scores in your head, occasionally juggle the lineup to make adjustments, see guys pulling for their teammates in ways they hadn't before and a couple of hours later, you've got yourself an end result.

When I think back to some of the best meets I've been a part of, dual meets really stand out - our first win over Wheaton, Northwestern vs. Indiana, and a classic battle with seven lead changes against Hope a couple of years back. The best part? Knowing we're just in season, nowhere near rested and on target for even better things.

Today was such a day. In the end, the good guys won, and it was a come-from-behinder at that. The best part though wasn't the win. It was the great racing. As you look down the results, take a look at a) how close some of the times were and b) how fast some of the NON-WINNING times were. WE raced so much better than last week, but most of all we saw guys willing to risk a little more, guys embracing racing and not afraid to be aggresstive. For me the meet will be defined by Derek Schneider & Bryan Pelka. Derek doesn't say much of anything, and while competitive, he's been anything but aggressive in his training and racing (hey it's tough when you've got guys like Steve Schranck, Alex VanHuis, Paul Busse, Bryan, around you. I know he's competitive though so before his 500, I talked about how much we needed a big swim, how Bryan, after going 9:44 in his 1000 and 1:57 in his 200 Fly was probably shot for the day (hah). He then proceeded to take out his 500 in 1:51 - just off his 200 time - and hold on for a 4:48 - only seven seconds under his previous best. It was a classic case of getting in the race early so that you could be in the race at the end.

Bryan's swim was similar. We knew the Lewis guys were fast (they went 1-2 in the 1000 with a winning time of 9:36), so I said to Bryan, "What the heck, go out with them. The worst that can happen is that the last 200 hurt like hell." It was the type of aggressive racing that we sometimes struggle to find for Bryan and also the type of swim he will need in the morning at NCAA's. He came home in 4:44 - just five seconds off of his best and easily under his best unrested time.

Oh, and if we're defining meets by a couple of races, at least a couple more deserve mention - Andy Bax leading off our 200 free relay in 21.73 was nice. And seeing our women's team also come from behind to win by an identical 106-98 score and coming within an eyelash of two school relay records was awesome.

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