Women’s swim team: small fish in a big pond

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Women’s swim team: small fish in a big pond

The swim team practices at Greensboro's Hebrew Academy last year.

The swim team practices at Greensboro's Hebrew Academy last year.

Courtesy of Matthew Jones

The swim team practices at Greensboro's Hebrew Academy last year.

Courtesy of Matthew Jones

Courtesy of Matthew Jones

The swim team practices at Greensboro's Hebrew Academy last year.

“The most common response when I say, ‘I’m on swim team’ is, ‘We have a swim team?’” said senior swimmer Nina Troy.

Probably due to the lack of an on-campus pool, not many seem to know about our women’s swim team.

Despite little publicity, the girls are still hard at work from 6:45 – 8:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday and from 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday working on strokes, improving their long-distance swimming and building muscle.

However, with only six members on the team, some even new to competitive swimming, this season has been a bit slow off the starting block.

“I started out with no experience on a swim team,” said first-year swimmer Katherine Kane. “It is a very different experience to be on a team, but I love it.

“It’s definitely harder not to be able to float along and swim how I want but I’m learning a lot. It’s also a lot of working on stamina and changing the way I swim and how I am in the water, but I love seeing how I improve day-to-day and week-to-week.”

“This is a good rebuilding year,” said Amanda Fontenot, swim team head coach and Assistant Director of the Career Development Center. “We have some strong swimmers who are coming into the group and some who are developing and will be even better in the upcoming years.”

This year is Fontenot’s first year as the women’s swim team coach. Fontenot has 12 years of competitive swimming experience, but is new to coaching for a collegiate swim team.

“It’s neat to be able to transition from my daily life, where I spend an hour or so with students, to coaching the team,” said Fontenot. “I adore the girls, they are really wonderful, and so it’s nice to see them holistically as students on campus.”

So far this season, the team hasn’t been winning at meets, but this is largely due to the team’s small size. Rather than viewing these as losses, the team has been using these meets as opportunities to improve by competing against other teams.

“A lot of the teams we are up against have 15 to 20 girls,” said Fontenot. “When you’re going up against a team that can swim two-a-days they may be able to fit more people into heats and events and raise their score. It’s hard when you have six girls to score a ton of points.

“They are doing great though, and they are getting stronger.”

Despite being at a competitive disadvantage, all of the girls enjoy being a part of such a small team.

“I think it allows for the personalized attention each swimmer needs,” said sophomore swimmer Isabel Gutierrez. “Everyone knows each other and we are a family, not only in the pool but on campus too.”

Even those used to swimming on larger teams have enjoyed the sense of comradery that has come with swimming with the team.

“I’ve always swam on teams with 40 or more people, so this is a drastic change,” said Kate Nunke, first-year. “I’ve enjoyed being on a small team so far. I’ve gotten to know the other swimmers pretty well, and we get to really help and push each other in the water.”

During the weekend prior to Nov. 21, the team was supposed to compete at Emory and Henry College but had to cancel because the team had a swimmer with a severely sprained ankle, another with a chipped elbow and one more who was recovering from mononucleosis.

The first week of December, the team — health permitting — will travel to Richmond, Virginia, for their next meet. As J-term ends, the team will have another meet at Greensboro College and will end their season with a meet at Hollins College.

Afterwards, the team will have Old Dominion Athletic Conference meets from Feb. 13 – 14, 2016 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

Though it takes a lot of hard work, the team loves doing what they do and would really enjoy having more people interested in joining.

“It’s really fun, and it’s a great way to stay in shape and get some exercise,” said Troy. “You don’t have to be a fantastic swimmer to be on the team.

“And it’s great to smell like chlorine all the time.”