January 10, 2009

While nothing beats the back-and-forth of two evenly-matched top-20 programs battling for pride, the easiest way to identify what you need to work on is to test yourself against a clearly more-talented team in a relatively low stakes environment.

That's why we're so fortunate to get the opportunity to race a team like Northwestern. On one hand, it gives our guys a chance to learn. How do they take their races out? Where's their head on a turn? Breathing pattern? Its one thing for a coach to tell you, its another to learn from a guy like Eric Nilsson as he goes 9:04.11 in his 1000 (third fastest in Division I).

The other thing it does is gives our guys the knowledge that they can race some of the best in the country without being in awe of them. While the final score was never in doubt, take a look at the results below - there were great races in almost every event (well, except for that 9:04). Fact is, if we couldn't offer Northwestern some good racing, there'd be no reason for them to come swim us. To have that kind of respect from an opponent is something we really value.

Anyone who knows me, knows we have big expectations as a team, but I have to be honest - after this week of training (I think of it as 'Training Trip II - Northern Edition') I wasn't expecting to see great times. I expected us to race hard, but figured our times would reflect the guys' exhaustion. The times defied belief. Who goes a lifetime best the first week in January? Nobody. Nobody that is except guys like Adam Glover, Chris Varner, & Ben Coder did.

This is an especially tough part of the season and it was a part that worried me. We're a young team of generally 'nice' guys. Toughness isn't one of the first adjectives that comes to mind, but today showed that we've come a long way since last semester.



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