The buzzer goes off and suddenly the pool is filled with havoc. Dozens of feet spring from the diving boards into cold water, kicking and stroking like mad, coming up for breath every few seconds before disappearing under the water’s surface again. For six hours last Saturday, this is what the Colorado College swim and dive team’s life consisted of: a plethora of different events at the University of Colorado Boulder invite. Along with CU-Boulder, CC raced against Colorado Mesa University, University of Northern Colorado, University of Kansas, and University of Utah club swimming. The women’s team swam away with a first place finish against the other schools, while the men’s team finished in second place.
For Head Coach Anne Goodman James, the highlight of the meet was noticing the toughness the team exuded. “Our theme for the year is being gritty: toughness, perseverance, and stick-to-it-iveness,” James said.
Because the team demonstrated all of these qualities at the CU-Boulder Invite, their first in-conference meet of the year, James believes there is a lot of promise for the team’s future. “It is always interesting going into the first meet of the year not 100 percent knowing what to expect,” said James. “But I feel like it was our best season opener we’ve had in years.”
While most swimmers and divers were where James expected them to be, some people were way ahead of the mark. Junior Emily Harrison won the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle races, while junior Mary Rose Donahue easily won both diving events. On top of this impressive effort, first-years Eric Dallesasse, Sarah Dunbar, Michael Heinonen, and Stefan Bay all dominated in the pool. “They are going to be quite a foursome on this team,” James said.
For junior Hannah Cooper, the highlight of the meet was watching all the first-years race for the first time in conference. “Seeing them race and get situated into a collegiate meet was a really good time,” Cooper said. “Because it was such a long meet, there was a lot of bonding.”
Prior to this meet, the team had only been in season training for three weeks. They were in their first cycle of training, which consisted of building up a solid aerobic base and working on starts and turns. Now, they are entering their second cycle of training where they will focus heavily on their individual needs. For Cooper, who is a stroke-specific swimmer, training is unique from her teammates.
“I usually do a lot of backstroke sets for my individual training,” explained Cooper. “Now I’ll probably focus on endurance work because the last 25 yards of my race were brutal.” Cooper will begin focusing on her individual needs while her teammates do the same. No one’s training will be identical to anyone else’s.
Going forward, James doesn’t currently have any goals of her own because it’s ritual that the team sit down together to develop goals. According to Cooper, most of the goals in swimming and diving are individual goals because James excels at taking individual needs into account. “She is a great coach, especially when it comes to getting the individual ready to compete,” Cooper said.
Having swam since she was eight years old, and with 41 years of collegiate coaching under her belt, James knows what she is doing. Better yet, she loves it.
“The relationships I build are the best part about being a coach and [the relationships] are what has kept me in it all these years,” said James. She especially enjoys being part of a pivotal time in her athletes’ lives and watching them grow. Growth is constant on both a large and small scale for the swimmers and divers, and meets are a perfect way of keeping track of that growth. The team races next on Nov. 5, when they host Colorado School of Mines in a dual meet at the Schlessman Natatorium.