3:49 – I am back to the blog after taking a short break following this morning’s prelims. It was a great morning for the Gusties and the coaching staff was impressed with the team’s ability to bounce back after a slow start on Wednesday. Following the afternoon’s final race, the swimmers parted ways with the coaches for lunch. Jon Carlson said at this morning’s meeting that it was important for the swimmers to spend some time with the families and friends who made the trip. After eating with their families, it was back to the hotel for some rest.
I brought Laura Drake back to the hotel while the coaching staff (Carlson, Lindstrom, and Weyandt) met up with former Gustavus swimmer Aaron Willis `96 for lunch. Aaron lives in Indianapolis and is a professor at IUPUI. He is currently conducting research on heroin users and an antidote for addicts who overdose (fascinating and heavy stuff). Some of my favorite stories from Gustavus coaches involve chance meetings with Gusties in the most random of places across the country and overseas. It seems that whenever a Gustavus team makes a trip such as this, an alum is somewhere nearby ready to cheer.
Before I touch on this afternoon’s team meeting, I’d like to talk about the performance of the 400-medley relay from the morning. The banner picture of Katie Olson that you see above is not by accident – the girl was a beast in that race. When Olson dove into the pool for the finishing freestyle leg, Gustavus was sitting in fourth place and on the outside looking in. Olson swam a 50.58, advancing the Gusties two places and allowing them to earn a spot in the finals with a time of 3:48.18. Olson’s freestyle split was the third-fastest of any swimmer in the race. Only Johns Hopkins’ Anastasia Bogdanovski’s 49.81 and Springfield’s Kellie Pennington’s 50.34 were faster. Coach Carlson called Olson’s performance gutsy and absolutely amazing. Her split was also the fastest in program history.
I’m going back to grad school with this theory and Professor Kamphoff is going to be proud of me, but I imagine that Katie had what in sport psychology is known as a “white moment.” Often referred to as “being in the zone” or “flow,” white moments rarely happen and very few athletes are lucky enough to ever experience one. A white moment occurs when your mind and body seem to be in such a state of harmonious focus that time seems to slow down. I’m interested to hear Katie’s perspective on the race after tonight. My guess is that she will either remember every detail of the swim or the whole thing will be a blur. If I’ve learned anything during my short stay in Indy, it’s that crazy things can happen at this meet.
The team held a meeting at 4:10 once again before leaving for the pool. Coach Carlson was pleased with morning’s performance and commended the swimmers on their competitiveness and drive. Coach Lindstrom reminded that team that although this is a start-and-stop meet and a start-and-stop sport, momentum is on our side and now is the time to take advantage.
4:58 p.m. – I am back at the IUPUI Natatorium doing some blogging from the pool deck next to Laura. The 200-free relay swimmers are in the lane directly in front of me going through their warmup. Once again, there is no wait and the Gusties are going to have to get after it right from the get-go. Tink, Dani, Tarin, and Katie will be on the blocks for the fourth race of the evening.
I will be capturing video of their performance from behind the start. They’ve earned a place at the table and now its time to find some dinner.
6:31 p.m. – Momentum in sports is a crazy phenomenon. If you’re not careful, you’ll miss the opportunity to grab it. That’s if you can even gain some to begin with. After all, the swimmers in the next lane are doing everything in their power to take it from you and create some of their own. The Gustavus women’s 200-free relay refused to let momentum slip away and took full advantage of it roughly 15 minutes ago.
I’m sitting in the media room sweating and trying to come off an unbelievable rush of energy because the Gusties finished fourth in the 200-free relay in a school-record time of 1:33.27. Katie Olson, Tarin Anding, Danielle Klunk, and Alissa Tinklenberg just earned Gustavus’s first All-America honor of the 2014 NCAA Championships.
Just like I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Tom Schutt hit the music and the finals competitors were escorted to their lanes in a reminiscent fashion of a WWE entrance. I wish I could remember the song they walked out to but I’m blanking now because I was so wrapped up in the moment. The Gusties, in their National Team warmups, were focused, yet calm and collected. I was able to get great video of the entrance and the entire race from behind the starting blocks. Nothing can prepare you for the intensity of a championship race from where I was standing. I could tell Gustavus was doing well because of the girls’ demeanor, but I wouldn’t dare jinx it and look at the scoreboard.
What a great start to the night! The four All-Americans, their coaches, and their teammates were all smiles after the race. I took some great pictures of Katie, Tarin, Dani, and Tink on the podium and you can view them via the link below.
The Gusties are once again going through a cool down in the practice pool. Yes, even All-Americans need to stick to the script. The Black and Gold has one more race tonight. The 200-medley relay will close out the session following the men’s one-meter diving competition.
7:38 p.m. – I’ve settled down some and am now capable of concentrating (a little). The members of the 400-medley relay are layered up in their warm ups and are currently resting their legs on the deck bleachers. The diving competition is happening right now and we will be underway shortly after its completion.
Observation note: Props the the NCAA on this one – it’s a pretty cool idea. Because of NCAA Division III’s partnership with the Special Olympics, the organization tries to incorporate Special Olympians in all of its championship events. Tonight, the meet began with a race between the Special Olympians from Indianapolis. Every student-athlete and spectator in the natatorium was on their feet cheering on the athletes for what was 50-meter race. One individual stole the show and put the crown into a frenzy by going another 50 yards just for good measure. It was a cool scene and a great way to kick off tonight’s festivities.
Along with the pre-meet race, Special Olympics athletes are also the ones in charge of taking the laundry baskets of the competitor(s) clothes back to the post-race meeting area once the event is complete. When a swimmer is walked to his/her starting block, he/she sheds the warmup gear and hands it to a volunteer. It is then gathered and placed in a laundry basket behind the starting block. This keeps the clothes dry and out of the way of walking traffic and other athletes.
The Special Olympians are also in charge of bringing the NCAA Championship trophies to the athletes on the podium. I’m not sure who was more giddy during the 200-free relay awards presentation, the Gusties receiving the trophies or the Special O kid carry them out.
8:59 p.m. – Boom! The Gustavus Adolphus women’s swimming team just earned its second All-America honor of the day with a fifth place finish in the 400-medley relay. It was another intense scene on the deck and the ladies handled the pressure like pros.
“We are starting to swim lights out,” said Jon Carlson after the race.
He’s right. You could feel this team start to gain confidence with its ninth place performance in the 200-medley relay on Wednesday night and has shown now sign of slowing down since then.
Tinklenberg, Strom, Klunk, and Olson moved up from their sixth place prelim ranking by recording a school/MIAC-record time of 3:46.97 in tonight’s finals. This team was a little more animated in introductions then compared to earlier, but that comes with confidence and getting used to this meet and its atmosphere.
The ladies are currently cooling down and I am off to do a couple of interviews. Expect a formal recap later on tonight along with a pair of videos of both races.
11:33 p.m. – I’m back on the blog for my final post of the night. What an amazing day for the Gusties. The women have moved up to an eighth place standing after two All-American swims. Coach Carlson and I are winding down after the long day and I hope the girls are fast asleep.
Below you will find the links to tonight’s formal recap and a pair of videos. Each video shows Gustavus’s All-America relay performance in its entirety followed by an interview. I talked to Jon Carlson and Katie Olson following tonight’s session. Be sure to also check out tonight’s photo gallery for a look at the relay teams on the podium.
Here are my brief thoughts on today. 1) The ladies did exactly what they needed to do. They seized momentum when it presented itself, came up with big swims at exactly the right time, and finished the day on a high note. So many things can go wrong at a meet like this, but Gustavus was able to keep its composure and perform at a high level despite the pressure. 2) I am emotionally drained. I told coach Weyandt following the meet that the 200-free relay took a toll on me. I’ve been drinking so much coffee on this trip that I’m starting to think coach Carlson’s habits are becoming my own. The deck is a hostile environment and I was not prepared for how intense it can be.
The Gusties will wake up at 7:00 a.m. once again for their morning walk around the monument. Tomorrow is the day Gustavus’s individuals take the stage. This club hit its stride today and I’m excited for what tomorrow brings.