As most Columbia students are preparing to take a monthlong nap post-finals, the Columbia women’s swim team has some plans for winter break that, to be honest, aren’t all that different from their normal routine: Just keep swimming.
Embroiled in a discipline that requires a barrage of workouts for improvement, the squad is already used to the rigorous routine of morning practices, afternoon practices, lifting, and dryland, but that doesn’t always make it any easier.
December is prime training time, and head coach Diana Caskey is a stickler for consistency, even in the face of academic stress.
“We’re approaching a challenging time with exams,” Caskey said. “That always presents an opportunity for people to make some choices we’d rather not have them make, but we’re working really hard to talk through all that to give them opportunities to enhance their training.”
The swimmers will return to campus on the Dec. 28 and immediately dive back into their grueling training regimen before heading to Puerto Rico for a training trip, with a few meets scattered throughout for good measure.
“We have an awesome amount of time to get back into heavy-duty training ... Our eyes are set on Ivies and NCAAs so we hope to keep as consistent training as we can from now until the end,” Caskey said.
As for the meets in between? “We’re just gonna swim really tired,” Caskey said.
Today, the team heads out to Philadelphia to take on Penn in a conference dual meet.
Though Columbia had an easy victory over Penn last year, 247-51, the Quakers are in a good position to step up and challenge them. Led by versatile junior Shelby Fortin, who set several school records last weekend at the Kenyon Invitational, the Penn team boasts some talented freshmen as well as strong distance freestylers and backstrokers.
“They’re very strong, they’re deep,” Caskey said, “They have certain strengths, we have different strengths, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”
But the Light Blue’s impressive times last weekend at the Winter National Championships and ECAC Warm-Up Championships, which included a school record and several near-misses, bode well for future performances.
“Most of them are seniors that are doing so well,” Caskey said. “It just goes to show you can get faster in this program, and not all programs can say that.”
Casley noted Kristina Parsons’, Caroline Lukins’, and Katie Meili’s successes in particular.
“To have Kristina [Parsons] get a university record in the front half of the season, Caroline Lukins swam so fast in the two fly twice down there, and of course Katie [Meili], she was almost as fast as she was at NCAAs [last year]—that’s a good marker for early December.”
But despite the successes, Caskey’s focus never wavers from the work to be done.
“We still have a lot of training to go, a lot more opportunities,” Caskey said. “It’s very exciting.”
At least they won’t have to make a New Year’s resolution to work out.