The Ashland University women's and men's swimming & diving teams will take to the pool for their second home dual meet of the season on Saturday (Dec. 9) at 1 p.m. when they take on Division I Cleveland State at Messerly Natatorium.
It will be the Eagles' final meet before a four-week respite during Christmas break. They will not be back in the pool for a competitive meet again until Jan. 5.
Ashland is coming off a fifth-place performance at the three-day Total Performance Sports Camps Invitational, hosted by Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. The event featured six teams, including two Division I schools, Ohio State and Davidson.
Q: From August until now, how have you seen the team progress through the season?
GR: The biggest thing I've seen is a lot of people are buying in and fully believing in the training that we're doing. Sometimes you'll have people who aren't seeing the success right away and that's what they want to see. It takes awhile to realize what we're doing every day is ultimately going to help us at the end of the season.
KG: I see a lot more commitment and a lot more focus on really taking care of business, doing the right things that are going to help us now and at the end of the season.
Q: This is your second year under coach Ron Allen. What has he brought to the pool that has helped you?
KG: He's really helped change the culture with the way he's affecting the whole atmosphere of swimming. He's teaching us about nutrition, sleep, the stuff outside of the pool. He's teaching us about what's going to help us at the end of the year and what's important to do in our races. He's teaching us about the overall importance of the little things that will make a difference.
GR: He makes sure that we're not overtraining. I've had coaches in the past that throw a ton of yardage on you and want you to go fast all the time and you see a lot more injuries. Ron is really good about making sure that we're not over-exhausting ourselves and we're doing the right training. When we are injured, he is very understanding if we have to go a little slower than our paces.
Q: Before the season, he talked about using video and breaking down each individual stroke to every specific detail. How has that affected your training and where have you seen improvement from the video work?
KG: When you look back at videos you get to see the minor details and that allows you to think about what you need to work on in practice. Every time I do a flip turn now, I'm thinking about rotating more and getting a better push-off. Or every time I'm doing a pull I'm thinking, 'this is getting more propulsion.'
GR: At the beginning of the year when we do the stroke breakdowns, we're able to see how the Olympians are swimming. A lot of them swim in different ways, so we can figure out ways that will work best for us based off what they do. He also offers a lot of individual work if you're willing to make time in your schedule and doing individual filming – underwater and above-water. A lot of times the mistakes we make are minute and little, but they're worth tenths of a second, and in swimming tenths of a second can mean the difference between first and last place. Going in, finding the little things, and then practice those things every single day that we caught in the film has really helped this last year.
Q: Do you approach each meet differently? Is there a different thing you're trying to accomplish each meet?
KG: Not necessarily. Each meet I'm working on different things, so I look back at what I did and realize I need to be better here, and I'll focus on that before my race. But once I get on the blocks I just clear my mind and go for the race.
GR: At the end of a dual meet, Ron will give you comments on your race – things you can work on, things you can improve. During the practices, those are things we focus on, but once we get to the meet, you're trying not to think too much and just swim fast.