By: Claire Schmidt
Collegiate swimming is a balancing act.
Samantha Neil is a senior at Olivet but considers herself a junior because of her eligibility on the team, as the sport came to Olivet during her sophomore year. Samantha admits that it’s hard balancing school and swimming but calls it a “rewarding” experience.
The swim team practices every day except Sunday. Morning practices are from 6-7:30 a.m. and afternoon practices are from 3 p.m. to either 5:30 or 6 p.m. Saturday practices are from start at 8 or 9 a.m. and last for three hours. Thursdays and Sundays are the only days the team does not have morning practices; a relief, then, to Samantha who tries to get sleep whenever she can.
Practices in the pool involve an 800-2000 yards warm-up. Overall, practices consist of usually broken sets of 6000 to 8000 yards.
Not only do swimmers have practices in the water, but they also do “dryland” workouts – dryland being the term swimmers use to refer to lifting, running, and other exercises outside of the pool.
There are also generally two different kinds of swimmers—sprinters and distance swimmers. Samantha is a distance swimmer.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the team does workouts like pull-ups, Olympic lifting, bench, and squats. But on Tuesdays and Thursdays, distance swimmers do around an hour of weight lifting, Samantha said.
Because of this difference, they sometimes have different workouts. For example, Samantha says that distance swimmers have a spin class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings while the sprinters lift.
Samantha estimated that on average the whole team gets about “4-7 hours of sleep” every night, not including naps.
Samantha tries to go to bed around 11, but takes naps throughout the day whenever she can. Finding time to study can be difficult, but social time isn’t as big of a concern for her. She calls the swim team “a big family.”
In total, there are 33 males and 22 females on the team. As only 18 men and 18 women can make it to the NAIA Swimming National Championships in March In between then and now, is training. October through November is one of the hardest parts in the season, Samatha said, because of a difficult training and competition schedule. In addition, the team still practices during most breaks, with only Thanksgiving week off and only one week off for Christmas.
Swimming takes a lot of time and dedication, but Samantha wouldn’t trade it for anything. She loves how “encouraging” the team is and the “team spirit.” She says the team regularly gets together to hang out. They have bible study once a week on Mondays after practice.
Although it’s hard for Samantha at times, it’s still worth it to her in the end.